One of the biggest factors that negatively affect my mental health is just the share amount of complaints I find myself in, as the quality of goods and services tanks. It got so bad at one point, as I was complaining about my local Mental Health Trust, that I became suicidal and burned out. Therefore, I thought I’d put together a guide to dealing with complaints so you don’t find yourself in a similar situation.
Dealing With Complaints: Why It Pays To Get It Right
Making a complaint, no matter the reason, can be very taxing on your mental wellbeing. When you already have poor mental health or you’re constantly having to make complaints to get your health issues taken seriously, you’re going to feel the effects of making those complaints. It might not even be that bad right away, but it can add up to the point it’ll sneak up on you and the camel’s back is broken. Not only that, but dealing with complaints the right way can affect the outcome of the complaint.
Dealing With Complaints: Coping Strategies
To minimise the negative impact of making a complaint on your mental wellbeing, try the following:
Approach the situation with a calm and composed mindset, which can be easier said than done sometimes. If you’re struggling, take deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re addressing a concern, not arguing in front of a judge.
As the saying goes, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar”. It also doesn’t cost you anything to be polite, and being polite will make them more likely to want to help you.
Choose the right time
Pick a moment when you feel less stressed or emotional to address the complaint. Otherwise, you’ll just make your mood worse. Plus, you won’t deal with the complaint in a healthy way because of already being stressed. That’s because timing can influence your emotional state. Furthermore, it always pays to make sure you have enough time when dealing with complaints because you don’t know how long it’ll take.
Really take time into account. What might seem like it should only take 10 minutes once you start talking to the customer service person, can quickly turn into hours or even days of trying to explain the same thing over and over again. Don’t underestimate the ability of the customer service person to not understand what the problem is or give you the wrong information—dragging it out over hours, or even days. I know this far too well.
Stick to the facts and avoid emotional exaggerations. Present your case in a clear, rational manner and keep it as short and sweet as possible to avoid misunderstandings. It can also help to work out exactly what you want to say before you start the complaint.
Focus on the issue
Keep your complaint focused on the specific problem or concern you have, rather than attacking the person handling the complaint personally. I know making complaints can be frustrating, but you’re not going to make anything better by getting personal with the person you’re talking to. Plus, they may end the conversation, forcing you to start the process all over again.
Use “I” statements
It can help to express your feelings using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, “I felt disappointed when…” instead of “You made me feel…”. This won’t work with every complaint, but it can be useful for some of them. This one is likely the kind you’ll use if you’re making a workplace complaint.
Although it’s tempting to just vent your frustrations, emphasising the need to find a solution that benefits both parties will have better results. After all, you likely need the person you’re complaining to about the issue to take your side.
When you’re dealing with complaints, it can be easy to forget that the person you’re talking to is just some person working a job. Understand that the person receiving your complaint is also human, as empathy can foster a more constructive dialogue.
While dealing with complaints, remember your own limits and emotional wellbeing. Don’t let the process consume you. Sometimes it’s better for your wellbeing to abandon a complaint rather than banging your head against a wall. It’s ok to walk away. I’ve recently had to do that myself to avoid burning out. I found myself dealing with more complaints than I could handle, so I focused on the ones that needed to be resolved asap and walked away from the other ones.
Social support network
Reach out to your loved ones for emotional support during the process of dealing with complaints. These are the best people to rant about such issues, and I’m sure they’ll have their own examples they’d like to rant about as well. This is much more cathartic than ranting at the person handling your complaint.
Realistically, the process may take patience and persistence. Avoid assuming the worst or getting preoccupied with the outcome. Understand that not all complaints will result in immediate resolution. Be patient and realistic about the outcomes. It also helps to have already accepted that you may be in this for the long haul. This is why acceptance can be so great for our mental wellbeing.
Focus on self-care
If you find you’re dealing with complaints that drag on and on and on and on, remember to engage in activities that help you relax and destress. This will help counteract any negative emotions from the complaint process and help you remain cool and calm as you continue to deal with the complaint.
When I made my complaint about my Mental Health Trust, it took the better part of two years. I even had to get support from an NHS advocacy service to take some of the burden off of me. Thus, having things in place that can help you relax, such as a hobby, can go a long way to maintaining good mental wellbeing.
Don’t hold on to bitterness, because it’ll fester away inside and the only people it’ll affect are you and the people around you. It’ll make no difference to the people you’ve made a complaint to. So look after yourself and let that negative shit go, because you’ll feel better for it. This is why self-care is important when it comes to dealing with complaints.
Reflect and learn
No matter the outcome of the complaint, take time to reflect on the experience. This is where journaling can be useful. Ask yourself: What did you learn from it? How can you handle similar situations better in the future?
Remember, the goal is not only to address the concern but also to protect your mental wellbeing throughout the process. With discipline and focus, you can advocate assertively in making a complaint while safeguarding your wellbeing. Keep it professional and don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences in dealing with complaints in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.