Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


C2R: Complaint to Request

girl_thinking Continuing the spirit of my post about discussion tools, I want to share a technique we’re trying out at work.  It’s called “Complaint to Request,” or C2R, for short.  It’s an easy approach and it is working well so far.  Here is the gist of this technique:

  • When you hear a complaint turn it around by saying something like, “I understand.  How can we turn that complaint into a request?”

This kind of question accomplishes a couple of things.  It acknowledges the issue and – more importantly – it shifts the conversation into “solution mode” and helps engage the complainer in thinking about how things could be better. 

We discussed the technique during a managers’ meeting and I must admit I thought this was a “looks good on paper” kind of concept, and didn’t think it would really work.  Nonetheless, I decided to try it out to see what happened. 

That night at dinner, I had the perfect opportunity to give it a try with one of my daughters:

Daughter: “Dad, you gave me an orange today in my lunch and that made me mad.  It was messy and I got orange gunk under my fingernails.”
Me: “I understand.  Now – how can we turn that complaint into a request?”
Daughter: (without missing a beat) “When you make my lunch, can you either cut up the oranges or give me another kind of fruit, like an apple?  And please put a napkin in the lunch bag.”
Me: “OK, I’ll do that.  Thank you for letting me know.”

I was fascinated by how well it worked, and how easy it was.  I didn’t tell my daughter I was “trying some new Jedi mind trick” or anything like that – I just tried the technique.  Since then, I’ve tried it a number of times at home and at work, and it generally gets good results.

The other thing this has done for me:  When I catch myself complaining about something, I try to think of a way to turn my complaint into a request.

If you try this out, let me know if it works for you.