As humans we love a whinge don’t we. And truth be told – we're pretty good at it.
It’s a fact of life that things will not always go our way or that at some point we will feel aggrieved. And when this happens, many of us will feel the need to vent our frustration to whoever we feel wronged us. Let’s be honest – we'll probably also whinge about it to anyone within earshot.
Now I'm not saying that articulating how you feel and what's made you feel that way is wrong – doing so can be helpful in alerting the other party to the fact that: 'Houston we have a problem’. Sometimes it may even make the other party think twice about repeating that action in future. And let's face it - who doesn’t enjoy an occasional vent?! It can be quite cathartic.
However, is whinging about a problem constructive? Does it actually help you resolve the issue at hand? Will it help you get what you want? If you’re really lucky - maybe. But more often than not it doesn’t.
At Scotwork, we advise that if you are aggrieved you propose the remedy. Alternatively, if you are the one who has aggrieved the other party then ask them what they would like you to do to make amends.
Think about it for a moment. We so often complain about a transgression but put the onus on the other party to work out how to fix the issue to our satisfaction. Then we become even more incensed when they a) don’t make an attempt to rectify things or b) the solution they offer isn’t what we want.
But how are they actually supposed to know what would right the wrong if we don’t tell them?
Getting on the front foot and proposing the remedy at the start not only offers you a more realistic chance of getting what you want, but it also means less time is wasted in doing so.
Let me offer you a real-life example of this concept in action...
CAR INSURANCE CLAIM
A couple of years back I was involved in a minor car accident while on holidays interstate. Thankfully we were all ok, but the car was undriveable. As I had comprehensive car insurance, I rang my insurer to organise for my car to be towed for repair. I was assured that my cover allowed for my children and I to fly home, while my car would be towed to one of their local repairers for assessment and repair before it would then be transported back to my home state. All was well at this point...
A day or two after the accident they phoned me to ask me for some additional information. During this conversation the customer service rep told me that my car had now been towed from the holding yard to the repairer and was ready to undergo assessment. I was told that this would be completed within a couple of days, and the repair would then get underway and probably be completed within the next week or two. I’d also be able to keep up to date with progress via their online app.
So, over the next two weeks I did exactly this, only to find that the assessment step was still marked as ‘pending’. Confused, I rang the insurer to enquire why this was the case – thinking there must have been an issue with the app. Imagine my shock when upon giving the customer service officer my details I was instead told that: “ummmm... your car hasn't been assessed.... It isn’t even at the repairers yet.... It’s actually still in the holding yard.... It’s been sitting there for the last 2 weeks....”.
Apparently, the chosen repairer was rather busy at the time and unable to fit the car in for assessment and repair until May....It was currently the beginning of February!!!!! In the meantime, the car was just sitting in the holding yard 1000km away waiting. And it would have continued to just sit there for the next 3 months with me none the wiser had I not rung to ask what was happening. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had been completely misinformed – I had been told that the car had been towed to a specific repairer 2 weeks prior and that assessment was imminent. Now they were saying this never happened! And nobody could tell me why I had been told this! Somebody had well and truly dropped the ball somewhere along the way and to say I was ‘dissatisfied’ would have been a serious understatement.
I wish I could say that the situation improved once this mistake was discovered, but I’d be lying. After scrambling to get the car towed to a different assessor/repairer there were more errors made which further increased the delay in assessment and repair and compounded my frustration. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say that they had stuffed up big time. More than once.
I had every right to be angry and I was. Over the next couple of weeks there were numerous phone calls between myself and various members of the insurance agency. Each time I expressed my frustration at the general crappiness of the experience and the incredible inconvenience caused. And each time I received their apologies and sympathies but little more than that.
Now ‘apologies’ are all well and good. I’m sure you’d agree that they are an expected courtesy and social nicety in situations where you have done the wrong thing. In some situations, they will be enough to smooth things over and move on. And in others... they just won’t cut the mustard. This situation was definitely a case of the latter. The apology was appreciated, but it wasn’t going to drive my kids to school!
After a couple of weeks of suffering through stuff up after stuff up and lots of ‘we’re sorry we stuffed up again’, I’d well and truly had enough. In a moment of desperate frustration, I decided that it was time try a different tact – I would cut back on the whinging and be more assertive during the next phone call. I’d been waiting for them to make things right and it just wasn’t happening!
Here’s how I approached the next call:
There was more, but you get the gist...
I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily the resolution process went. I couldn’t help but kick myself that I hadn’t had that conversation much earlier on. If I had, I am sure it would have saved me a lot of wasted time and frustration. From a practical viewpoint, I probably would have had some temporary transport for my children and I much sooner also.
In summary, the lessons here are:
Feeling aggrieved? Tell the other party what they need to do to make it up to you. And do so early in the piece. If you don’t there’s every chance, they either won’t do anything (why would they if they can get away with it?! (E.g. Not having to pay for a hire car) Or you’ll waste time – either through bickering or leaving them to guess what you want. It’s far quicker and easier to just tell them.
If you’ve aggrieved someone – as soon as it brought to your attention, ask them what it will take to make it up to them. Not showing any interest in doing so or delaying this process risks damaging the relationship. Instead show that you care about maintaining said relationship – ask and listen. You don’t necessarily need to meet the demand – it might be unfeasible, outrageous, not worth it etc... But at least you’ll know what you need to do if you do decide you want to salvage things.
Less whinging, more proposing... give it a go!
About the author:
Elizabeth develops, co-ordinates and maintains the vehicles and tools which reflect Scotwork Australia’s identity as the world-leader in negotiation training and advisory services. She is thus responsible for Scotwork’s branding and collateral, marketing communications, digital marketing and social media.