Most complaints don’t reach their intended, rightful owner. That is, the person or organisation that it is directed at. Or if it does get to them it is not delivered in the same format that it first started out as. Usually weeks later and compounded by numerous other complaints. This is especially true for business but also true in personal relationships. It seems that we are the last to find out that that person had an issue with us. If we could only get to hear the complaints first, before they start doing the rounds behind our backs, we would be blessed with a dearth of feedback and pertinent information that we could use to modify our behavior or at least address the situation.
Doubt what I am saying and just listen in to conversations around you when at cafes or on the street and I think you will find the conversations consisting of a myriad of complaints of unfulfilled desires falling short of their rightful business, government or individual ears.
So how do we change this entrenched culture and do we even recognize that this is a problem and needs changing at all? This book is an attempt to expose, what I consider, to be an obvious problem and suggest a number of solutions and tools that could turn this behavior around. I think that it has been so long since we have disclosed our complaints responsibly to the recipients that we have forgotten how it is done.
At the same time we have also forgotten how to deal with hearing such direct approaches and such confronting information. These things have to change! How we deliver complaints and how we receive them.
Rethink Perfect is a 25 year journey of discovering the existence of complaining responsibly, learning to dissect these two skills of giving and receiving them and attempting to apply them in my life using my brother as a guinea pig and hoping to apply them in a relationship some day.
When you think about it, it is pretty obvious that it is not because of what we have in common that causes our relationships to break but because of what we don’t have in common or what we cannot resolve in our differences. But where are the books and information telling us how we can go about delivering this information to our intended? How do we go about airing our complaints so that we can get a constructive and balanced outcome for all? Where is the dialogue amongst our peers and elders reminding us that the direct approach is the best way and the tools that we should use to deliver and hear the messages that are most difficult to give and receive?
What if I told you that there is a long lost method detailed in the bible (now don’t worry I am not about to bible bash you as Rethink Perfect has no ties with God or Jesus only to reference this verse like any other book that I have read over my 51 years) that no organisation in the world would carry out as I think it would lead to their ultimate loss of their power? This verse is less than 10 lines long but, to me, summarizes my quest to find out the relevance of such a direct method of complaining and dealing with someone or an organisation that we have a problem with.
15. Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
So it is becoming more apparent to me that Rethink Perfect and my quest is built around this verse and this possible long lost method of complaining to each other and listening to complaints so that we can change and improve our situations so much more than we are achieving now.
Also, alongside this book is included a fairy tale that I wrote some 20 years ago depicting a young bird called Biron who lived in a valley of birds that had lost the art of flight. He was the first bird in who knows how many generations that ever asked the question what his wings were for and then set about finding out.
I am sure you can start to see the similarities with the story of forming Rethink Perfect.
How to complain responsibly?
Well, I think it is useful to use what I call the 3A’s for complaining. That is
1. Appreciate, thank them for the positive contribution they have made to you.
2. Apologise, for not letting them know sooner about the problem.
3. Acknowledge that you are new at this and are not likely to get it perfect
Finally make an agreement on how to move forward by stating your proposed solution, like, “From now on can we agree that……” In this way the complaint is overshadowed by the proposed agreement and solution.
And Prepare for the Failure?
Well, to me the whole process is a preparation to avoid the failure but inevitably, we are never likely to get it “right” or perfect being human. And even if it were possible, is the recipient of the complaint, likely to hear it perfectly? Not likely either.
So, just be prepared for this and take it into account, if it doesn’t go as smooth as hoped. Having both people agree to this process and awareness of “complaining responsibly” and the preparedness for failure is also important for ultimate success.
If the recipient has any complaints, please follow the same complaints procedure!