Sunday, June 9, 2019

How to Complain

Musings of a Navy Veteran on Grievance Management in Professional and Personal Life (Workplace/Marriage/Familial Relationships)


If you have a grievance – you must try to resolve that grievance.

And – in order to resolve your grievance – as a first step to mitigation of your grievance – you must make a complaint – so that the concerned persons are aware of your grievance.

This applies in both workplace relationships and personal relationships – especially marriage.

So – if you have a grievance – you must complain.

In many cases the person causing you the grievance may not be aware that his actions are causing you agony.

Your complaint may make him realize his mistake and he may take corrective action.

Complaining is a part of constructive communication in a relationship.

What is the best way to complain…?

Here is the “Art of Complaining” in a nutshell:

1. Complain to the person who you think is harming you – not to anyone else.

2. Make your complaint immediately – or as soon as possible – when you are alone with the person. Use temperate and courteous language while making the complaint.

3. Keep the complaint private – not public. Avoid complaining in front of others. 

4. Object only to actions – do not make personal attacks. State the specific facts of your grievance.

5. Make only one complaint at a time.

6. Clearly tell the person what you want them to do in order to resolve your grievance.  

7. Most importantly – make the complaint in good faith. Avoid threats, comparisons and extraneous/inappropriate/sarcastic comments.

This prompt “one to one” method of complaining is much better than “gossiping” or “gunnysacking”.  

For example – if a wife has a grievance against her husband – she should directly complain to her husband – instead of talking to her mother, sister, friends, relatives, in-laws etc.

The same applies in workplace relationships as well.

Never “bottle up” your grievances inside you.

The habit of “bottling up” grievances may result in “gunnysacking”.  

(Gunnysacking is a metaphor to describe the act of “storing up” grievances acquired in the course of a relationship rather than resolve them when they first occurred)

Bottling-Up of grievances (Gunnysacking) will cause resentment to build up inside you – and – it will slowly make you bitter and vindictive in nature.

One day – the “gunnysack” may “burst” – and all your bottled resentment may “explode” out – resulting in a major conflict – and – your relationship may be damaged beyond repair.

In order to end this unpleasant topic on a pleasant note – let me tell you a story which metaphorically encapsulates the essence of gunnysacking


Once upon a time – there was a docile man – who used to work in an office.

He was a very meek and obsequious person

The docile man’s boss was a tyrant and a terrible sadist.

The tyrant boss used to scold, bully and harass the servile and docile man.

The tyrant sadistic boss had made the docile mans life miserable.

One day – the boss suddenly died of a heart attack.

Just before his funeral – all members of his staff went to pay their last respects to the departed soul.

Suddenly  the docile man picked up a big stone  and – he threw the stone at the dead body of his boss.

Everyone was shocked and surprised at docile man’s strange behaviour. 

They asked the docile man why he had behaved in such a despicable and unbecoming manner.

Everyone asked him the reason why he had thrown the stone at the dead body of the boss.

The docile man calmly explained:

“All these days  I was carrying a stone in my heart. 

Today – I have thrown the stone out...”


Do you carry such “stones” in your heart...? 

Is your heart filled with“stones” of bitterness  “stones” of regret  “stones” of ill-will  “stones” of rancor, resentments, acrimony – and  “stones” of vengeance.

Remember  you are bearing the burden of all these “stones” that you carry within you  and – this burden  due to the weight of all the “stones” you carry in your heart it causes you pain. 

So – there is no point carrying “stones” in your heart  which cause you pain.

Whatever is causing you bitterness inside  get it off your chest – right now  once and for all.  

Just throw out all these “stones” right now  forget about them.

And  move on in life with a clean slate. 

Once you have thrown out all the “stones” from your heart – once your heart is clean  just experience how light and joyful you feel. 

It is true.

The Less “baggage” you carry inside you  the better your journey of life will be in the “outside” world. 



Gunnysacking is like carrying stones in your heart. 

In the story above – the docile man threw out the “stone” from his heart after his boss had died. 

But – just imagine what will happen if your Gunnysack” of “stones” bursts when the person against whom you bear these resentments is alive – and you throw” the entire lot of “stones” at your boss or spouse in one go...? 

Won’t the relationship be damaged beyond repair...? 

Why not try to resolve a grievance immediately by articulating the issue when it occurs – or at the first possible instance – as explained above in the tips on “How to Complain”...?  

Isn’t timely complaining better than “gunnysacking”...? 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2. All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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