How to Handle Complaints (Podcast)

All leaders face complaints. The way we handle a complaint can reveal more of our heart than the best crafted mission statement or vision talk. It is human nature to naturally become defensive when facing a complaint and it is easy to respond with emotions, but these reactions will destroy trust and repel our followers. If we can learn how to respond correctly and respectfully to a complaint, we can actually build the trust of our people and create more buy in.

In this episode of the Leaders Factory Podcast we are discussing the skills leaders need to properly handle complaints. Click on the link below to listen to the podcast and follow along with the notes provided!



Subscribe to the Leaders Factory Podcast by CLICKING HERE.

How to Handle Complaints:

  1. Welcome the complaint. 
 Remember, our members create our jobs. It is important to thank the person for bringing it to your attention. They could forget about complaining, and simply go elsewhere and you would never see this person again. 
Or, rather than complaining, they could begin to resent you, avoid working with you or start telling others about your faults.
 So, it is a good thing that they are bringing it to you directly.
  2. Keep your cool. Be careful to not become defensive or emotional. Be calm and you will calm down the customer.
  3. Listen.
 Practice active listening. This means summarize what you have just heard from the customer to make sure you have heard them correctly. Resist the temptation to become defensive and cut them off with your excuses before they finish explaining their issue. By allowing them to finish you gain information and the complainer get to vent their frustration.
  4. Show concern. If you show genuine concern and respect, the complainer gains more confidence in you. 
You can do this by apologizing for the problem. “I’m sorry,” is a powerful statement. It takes a strong person to say it and mean it. Don’t say it only because you have low self-esteem or want to beat yourself over the head. Say it because you truly realize a problem has occurred that you did not want to occur.
  5. Don’t minimize the problem. No complaint is too small. It may seem trivial to you, but I guarantee it is not trivial to the complainer.
  6. Get the facts. Nothing can be resolved until the facts are in.
 Determine what caused the problem. Was it a technical glitch? A misunderstanding? Bad judgment? Determine why you acted or spoke the way you did. How did this cause the problem? When you get to the root of the matter, you can discover its remedy.
  7. Be alert for false claims. Upset people tend to exaggerate.
 Again, get the facts so that you can access the scope of the issue and begin to address a remedy.
  8. Find points of agreement.
 Seek to find common ground with the complainer, something you can agree on. You can build on common ground.
 Be careful of finding common ground in a complaint against a superior or a team member unless you are willing to confront that person one on one immediately.
  9. Admit errors.
 Covering up is not right and may cause more problems and will destroy trust. When you are wrong admit it. Nothing builds trust faster than owning a mistake. Keep in mind that it is not the end of the world when you make a mistake - but the end may come sooner than you think if you keep repeating the same mistake.
  10. Explain your actions. Let the complainer know what you will do to correct the situation.
  11. Give a time estimate and make it as specific as possible. Ask the person if he or she will accept your apology. Explain what happened, why it happened and steps you have taken to correct it.
 Ask for the opportunity to do it right in the future. The ball is now in the other person’s court. If you have handled this situation well, future possibilities are enhanced.
  12. Follow through. The problem is magnified if you don’t.
 Nothing destroys trust faster than promising to correct a mistake and then failing to follow through.

The biggest advise I can give you in handling complaints is show respect to those who bring forth the complaint, both to their face and behind their backs in your conversations with others. As difficult as that is when the emotions become involved, choose to respect anyway. It is a choice that will serve you well in your future endeavors.

Question: How do you handle complaints? Please share it here in the "Leave a Reply" box below.

Related Posts:

  1. How to Fight
  2. Steps to Effective Communication
  3. 5 Questions That Shape Communication
  4. Top 3 Books on Communication
  5. Conflict Resolution Skills

Steps to Effective Communication (Podcast)

In this episode of the Leaders Factory Podcast we're talking about how to improve our communication skills. Communication may be the single most important skill for a leader to master. It is one of the primary causes of marital strife and divorce, team conflicts, leadership anxiety, and business failures. It is a skill to be mastered and regardless of how natural some may be at it, all of us have room to improve.



Subscribe to the Leaders Factory Podcast by CLICKING HERE. Read more for the notes from the teaching taken from Carl Mays book "Are We Communicating Yet?"

Steps to Effective Communication:

  1. Clarify your ideas before attempting to communicate them.
 What specifically do you want the person or group to receive? Do you have a firm grasp of your primary idea, concept or message?
 People often spend more time beating around the bush than getting to the core of what needs to be communicated.
  2. With empathy, acknowledge the rights and feelings of others. Everyone has needs, wants, objectives and resources. When you relate to people in an acceptable way, you build credibility and trust. This helps create open, positive dialogue. Be yourself, but speak from the perspective and competency level of the receiver.
  3. Be honest. While using tact and good manners, make sure you are also honest. If you are not honest, integrity is lost. Communication is destroyed. 
Be compassionate in your truthfulness. Often the manner in which you say something is more important than what you say.
  4. Pay attention to body language.
 The experts say 75-95% of communication is nonverbal. People respect and respond to good eye contact, smiles, cordial voice tones, good posture, enthusiasm and well-placed humor. And even though you are told, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” people do judge you by your appearance.
  5. Practice active listening when someone else is talking. The greatest communicators are not necessarily the greatest speakers. More often than not, they are the greatest listeners. 
Active listening is an absolute necessity for good communication. If there is no receiver, then the sender is wasting his or her time.

Active Listening Barriers:

  1. You are concentrating on what you are going to say when the other person finishes talking rather than concentrating upon what the person is saying.
  2. You become an identifier. 
 If the person is talking about his or her problem, you think about one of your own problems. If the subject is a project, you think about one of your own projects.
  3. Your main concern is how the speaker perceives you. 
 You wonder what he or she thinks about the way you look and the way you present yourself.
  4. You are easily distracted. Your attention is quickly diverted by extraneous sounds, sights or activities.
  5. You filter what the other person is saying. Some people refer to this as “selective listening” - listening only to what you want to listen to and simply ignoring the rest of the message.
  6. You become defensive. Because you feel that what the speaker is saying reflects unfavorably upon you, you become defensive. Since you feel threatened, your listening is filtered with that perspective.
  7. You have no desire whatsoever to empathize with the speaker. You have already made up your mind and you are not going to allow facts or rational thinking to confuse the matter.
  8. You drift off into another world while the person is talking. 
 Embarrassingly, this can lead to your sudden coming back to the present and saying, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
  9. You spend your time and thoughts assessing the messenger rather than listening to the message. You concentrate mainly on such things as appearance, demeanor, vocal quality, accent, etc.
  10. You assume you know more about the subject matter than the speaker does. 
 Thus, you disregard any new information or perspective the speaker might offer.
  11. You spend your time agreeing with everything that is said, just to be nice or to avoid conflict. This doesn’t mean that you’re a good listener. It simply means you don’t want to rock the boat, regardless of what is said.

How to Listen:

  1. Establish the proper atmosphere and attitude. Make sure you are ready to receive and respond, whether it is in person or on the phone.
  2. Start listening with the first word that is said. How many times has this happened to you? You start a conversation by introducing yourself and your name and then half-way through the conversation the person asks, “Now, what did you say your name is?”
  3. Concentrate on the communicator and turn off your own concerns.
 Think about what is relevant to this conversation and to this individual. Discipline yourself to resist outside distractions.
  4. Focus on the big picture.
 Rather than trying to remember every single word, listen for the ideas. Cut to the very essence of the individual’s wants and needs.
  5. Respond to the issues and don’t be distracted by such things as a grating voice, poor grammar or ineffective expression.
  6. Remember that you can’t talk and listen at the same time. Don’t interrupt. 
Use vehicles such as “I see” and “Yes” to help carry the conversation along and to show you are listening.
  7. Ask questions to help draw out the conversation.
 If you feel you don’t understand something, get it cleared up before it results in an embarrassing and perhaps costly mistake later on.
  8. Summarize what you understand has been agreed upon. Highlight the key issues to make sure that you and the communicator are on the same page.
  9. As the listener, take responsibility for the success of the encounter.

Question: Of the 9 How to Listen points, how many have you highlighted that you need to work on? You don't need to be specific, but I am curious as to the average number of skills each of us need to focus on. I've highlighted 4 that I need to immediately focus on. Please answer and make any comments in the "Leave a Reply" box below.