The Art of Complaining Assertively
Who in this life hasn’t had motives, reasons or the need to demand something from someone? Human relationships are a conflictive battlefield on which negotiations, concessions and permanent agreements are constantly being established. But the results aren’t always happy ones. Sometimes these agreements, whether they are implicit or explicit, aren’t achieved or met, and that’s when you need to make your demands assertively.
How can you not have certain demands at work if sometimes they only take into account their own interests and not your needs? How can you not demand things from your partner if they start to make inconsiderate gestures, full of indifference and hostility? How can you not have demands for your family if they sometimes ascribe roles to you that don’t correspond with what you actually want to do?
At first, most of the time these small injustices aren’t very serious, but they can be the starting point for more complex problems that you won’t be able to let pass by unnoticed. A complaint or reclamation in due time is better than a silence that will beget future storms. The key is in knowing how to complain and make your demands known effectively. Up next we’ll describe some ideas that will help you with this art of demanding with assertiveness.
Train in the art of complaining assertively
Just like any art, the art of complaining assertively also demands practice. There are actually very few cases in which someone has received any kind of instruction on how to do it, so the best thing is for you to start with basic training.
Start with small complaints, always keeping as your goal to be efficient in what you’re demanding. The ideal thing is for you to try it with people who aren’t a part of your daily surroundings and who are doing something that deserves the complaint. For example, an electrician who did his work poorly. It’s about telling him, calmly and clearly, what you think is wrong.
Acknowledge the best things in others and speak only for yourself
This is the magic key to the world of assertiveness, and it isn’t only applied to complaints and demands, but to all kinds of situations. Instead of showing your discomfort by questioning what the other person is saying or doing, express how the situation is affecting you in order to reach a better level of understanding with the other person.
Let’s look at another example: you have a boss that subtly gives you more and more work every day, to the point that you can no longer leave at the end of your shift. Instead, you have to extend your work day without any kind of compensation. You are scared to complain to him, because he is picky and there are rumors going around, as always, that there will be a downsizing soon.
You could tell him that he is taking away your right to keep a defined working schedule. However, if you do it this way, surely the result would be an open conflict or, in any case, some kind of resentment.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to look for the right time to tell the other person what the situation represents to you. Tell him, for example, that you understand that there is a lot of work to be done, and you know that he wants everything to get done right. Add in the fact that you want to pitch in, but in order to do this you’ve had to extend your normal work hours, and this is leading to disorganization in other aspects of your life.
Increase your ability to be simple, direct and stay calm
The best type of communication is one that goes straight to the point. You don’t have to be harsh or crude, you just have to communicate in a way that explains your complaint clearly, in a simple way and without beating around the bush. Otherwise you may be seen as insecure or attempting to manipulate others.
Something that can complement this way of communicating assertively is for you to work on your emotional self-control. If you stay calm, your chances of resolving the problem will increase exponentially. Remember that nobody is born with self-control. This is an acquired ability. Work on it.
Perseverance and selection
Many conflicts and disagreements aren’t resolved very easily. Sometimes it’s not enough to present your complaint with respect and assertiveness so that the other party will understand. In order for them to treat you justly, you must be patient and persistent. Many times you will be forced to voice your complaint more than once.
Anyhow, there are also some complaints that should be abandoned if the objective you’re trying to achieve is not that significant. Why waste your time and energy on a demand that the other person is not willing to admit, not because it’s not reasonable, but because they have no intention of acknowledging your rights, expectations or needs?
In those cases, persisting is absurd. What you should do is seek to put an end to a situation that essentially has no solution. You might lose something momentarily, but in the long run, you’ll surely gain much more.