ExchangeEveryDay Past Issues
<< Previous Issue
| Browse by Title
| | Next Issue >>
April 13, 2012
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
The Exchange Essential, "Dealing with Difficult People," offers this advice on dealing with chronic complainers:
The key to any degree of success in dealing with a chronic complainer is to break this cycle of feeling powerless, shifting responsibility to others, and blaming others for failing to act. Your goal as director should be to shift ineffectual complaining behavior into problem- solving behavior. To accomplish this shift, try the following approach:
Step 1. Listen...
Listening carefully can help you decide whether the complainer simply needs to let off steam, or if he is raising a real problem that requires action. By dismissing all complaints, you only increase the frustration level of everyone, and run the risk of converting problem solvers into chronic complainers.
Step 2. Take control...
If you sit back and let the chronic complainer ramble on, you will lose all hope of directing the conversation toward a productive end. After you've listened enough to understand the problem, you will need to politely, but firmly, interrupt the monologue. Looking the person in the eyes and holding up your hand in a stop signal can help reinforce your intention.
Step 3. Acknowledge...
Let the complainer know that you understand what he has said, that you know how he feels, and that you intend to take his complaint seriously.
Step 4. Ask Questions...
To move the conversation in this direction, ask questions that define the problem more concretely and provide ideas for a solution. Don't ask 'why' questions because these invite longwinded justifications and continued complaining. Stick to fact-generating questions.
Step 5. Assign Tasks...
Once all the facts are on the table and there is a clear picture of what the problem is, it's time to shift back to the complainer a fair share of responsibility for solving the problem.
Step 6. Follow-Up...
If you've asked a complainer to take some specific steps toward a solution, agree upon deadlines and then follow-up to make sure he meets these deadlines.
Buy any Title for $4, 72 Hours Only!
(Sale ends 5/4/2013 11:59pm PST)
Exchange has published over 2,300 articles. We have selected the most popular of these articles and organized them by topic into inexpensive ($1 per article) digital collections that you can download to your desktop for immediate use. You'll find that Exchange Essentials are the perfect platform for staff development and training sessions that deliver the essential, critical information staff and students need. Enjoy!
View All Titles and Purchase!
Delivered five days a week containing news, success stories, solutions, trend reports, and much more.