How would you like to improve your mood and self-esteem, build stronger relationships with friends and intimate partners, and get satisfaction when you're stuck with a defective product or poor service?
According to psychologist Guy Winch, here's what to do: Complain, complain, complain!
The trick: Complain the right way—the assertive way—so that what you say is effective, kind, and fair. Only some squeaky wheels get the grease.
Complaint maven Winch, a fellow PT blogger, has written The Squeaky Wheel, now out in paperback, to help you complain like a champion. His topics run the gamut from "squeaking" at customer service people, to standing up for yourself in relationships, to making the world better just by strategically kvetching about it.
(By the way, how many complainers does it take to change the world? You'll find the answer at the end of this post.)
Here, briefly, are 9 habits of highly effective complainers:
The benefits of effective complaining are legion. In Winch's words:
"Speaking up about a complaint and attaining a resolution makes us feel empowered, assertive, effective, and resourceful. It can boost our self-esteem and enhance our feelings of efficacy. It can help us battle depression, improve our relationships, salvage partnerships, and deepen friendships."
Speaking up to your doctor may even help you save your own life.
As you roll along with The Squeaky Wheel, you'll learn why we must refuse the pity of others, why it's good to be a slow talker when you complain, why and how to handle call center employees with civility, and how to eat a complaint sandwich when someone is "squeaking" about YOU. There are special sections on complaining to loved ones, using social media, and making your neighborhood—and the world—a better place.
Winch's book is not only helpful; it's positively entertaining. His stories are memorable as well as funny, perhaps because, in addition to being a psychotherapist, Winch moonlights as a stand-up comic. It's rare that I can say that I chuckled my way through a self-help book, but I did through this one. My only quibble: I would have preferred a few more assertive phrases and scripts to try out.
So, how many complainers does it take to change the world? One could be an anomaly. Two could be a coincidence. But three constitute a trend. That's good news: If you have two good friends, the three of you have enough leverage to move the world—or a piece of it anyway. And if you need a little "complaining therapy" first, I highly recommend The Squeaky Wheel.
Winch, Guy, The Squeaky Wheel (2011), NY: Walker & Company.
© Meg Selig
I'm the author of Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success (Routledge, 2009). For short updates and tidbits on topics of habit change, willpower, and motivation, please "like" me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter.