It rarely helps
While “never explain” and “never complain” are two discrete parts of the couplet, a common thread runs through them: autonomy and accountability.” Kevin Hogan
We’ve discussed why you should rarely explain your decisions or preferences. How about complaining? Still no – generally.
If someone hasn’t kept their promises, then certainly it’s OK to ask for an apology or file a complaint. It’s fine to ask for your money back. Be sure you don’t apologize for asking, though. Just make it quick and direct. Specify what you’d like them to do; don’t make them guess.
And, if you can help someone with your constructive feedback, then you are doing both of you a favor by acting.
If you can accomplish more by doing something yourself, though, then do it. Do something instead of complain about what’s wrong.
For example, your Area Director has taken a lackadaisical approach to supporting your club. Complaining, whether to the Area Director, the District Director, or to fellow Toastmasters will probably accomplish little. You can try, but consider it an experiment – an ill-advised experiment perhaps, but still only an experiment. If it works, and the AD buckles down and helps with your Open House and advocates for you in a dispute with District officers, great. If not, go to the best plan.
Act! Seek appointment as an Area Director, learn the skills, make the contacts (even if it’s not in your club’s area). You’ll be better equipped to support your club, and you’ll learn a lot.
If you’re not in a position to change whatever you see as wrong, keep quiet. That’s only common sense; if you can’t make it better, for heaven’s sake, don’t risk making it worse.
If the issue is one of taste, or priorities — stop. Remember that the person who is aggravating you has a purpose and vision outside of your needs and interests. The District officer who fails to document your contribution may have other priorities and even demands that overshadow your interests. Complaining about someone’s taste or priorities is pointless and fruitless.
If your dinner was lousy and the service abominable, don’t go back. But don’t waste your time and energy complaining. Focusing on your irritation doesn’t make you feel better, it just extends the irritation.
Fix it if you can, without complaining. If you can’t fix it, learn more – maybe you can fix it later, maybe you’ll just learn a lot. If you can’t fix it, move on. That will save your time and energy and decrease your stress. It may avoid embarrassment and avoid exacerbating the problem as well.