How to Complain Without Sounding Like a Whiny Twerp

Slap together a complaint sandwich and kill 'em with kindness

April 26, 2017 9:00 am

Whether conscious or not, we complain about everything. 

And if there’s anyone who’s turn complaining into a full-blown art form, it’s psychotherapist and The Squeaky Wheel author Guy Winch. 

Let’s just say Winch is so good at giving advice about the best way to direct complaints that his books have been translated into 21 languages and his TED Talks has been viewed more than four million times.

The man’s best advice? A scrumptious little concoction called a “complaint sandwich”. 

The sandwich is made of three main ingredients, an “ear opener” to make the listener sympathetic to your cause, some “meat” that includes your complaint and suggested solution, and finally a sweet-sounding “digestive” to motivate the listener to advocate on your behalf.

Here’s an example provided by Psychology Today a few years back: “I’ve been a customer of Slipshod Corporation for 5 years, and I’ve generally been happy with your service. Last month I noticed an extra charge on my account for a service I never ordered, and I would like that removed. I would really appreciate your help with this.”

As simple as the sandwich is, we think you’ll be pleased when you serve one up the next time the cable company jacks up your bill without telling you. Or the pizza boy comes late with your pie. Or you get booted off an overbooked flight.

The complaints are endless. 

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