How to Deal With Complainers

No matter how well you lead your association, you’re going to hear some complaints. It comes with the position. Reviewing the volume and legitimacy of the complaints will help you determine how to deal with the griping members properly. Here are some points to consider when encountering negative feedback.

Step 1 — Who is complaining?

There are some members who will complain about just about everything. If that is the case, you might have to learn to tune out some of the grumbling (or get a good pair of earplugs). If the complaint(s) comes from a respected member in good standing or multiple members, you should keep your ears and mind open to rethinking a decision you or the board made on behalf of the association.

Step 2 — What is the complaint?

If you hear a complaint or two about the end-of-the-season banquet food, listen politely and move forward. Personal food preference is going to be different for everyone. But if the complaint is about how you’re running meetings, an issue with the bylaws or a dues increase, make sure you bring that complaint in front of the full board. Even if you don’t agree with it, don’t dismiss it. As a representative of your association, discuss pertinent issues. Maybe the board will decide to bring the issue up with the full membership or maybe the board will decide to dismiss it. Either way, get back to the member in a timely manner with the collective response.

Step 3 — Is the complaining member causing problems for your association?

If you have someone who is quietly complaining to anyone who will listen, he could be a cancer eroding the unity of your group. The real danger might be if that person is bending the ear of impressionable new members. If you’re hearing about the complaints through the grapevine and it’s causing a problem for the group, confront the member or members who are causing the ruckus. Talking face-to-face is important.

Step 4 — Can you turn the complaint into a positive?

Find a productive solution to the member’s problem whenever possible. If a member complains about the lack of video in training meetings, ask the member to put together a presentation using video to share at a meeting. If a member complains about not getting playoff assignments, suggest camps that were helpful to you in your advancement. A quality leader will try to address a member’s complaint whenever possible. Maybe then you’ll hear praise from that member the next time you see him or her. You can always hope.