Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Writer puts your complaints to good use


 
                                                           Book review  by Nancy Snipper    

We all do it: complain. Some of the things we complain about are out of our control. We complain about the weather, getting older, parking tickets, landlords, potholes and traffic. We even complain about our in-laws, a difficult co-worker, and yes, our spouses. Most of us vet; we just don’t stop and think about turning our complaints into a strategy whose outcome will produce a positive result.  Amy Fish, a complaint expert, has recently written an 86-page book, titled, “The Art of Complaining Effectively.” This how-to-book enables us to move our complaints out of the negative zone - making them work in our favour for optimum results. The books are now being snapped off the shelves.  
“Essentially, the book offers five key tips – all starting with the letter “C” for complaining. To sweeten the task, there’s a cookie recipe at the end of the book,” laughs Fish.  It’s full of humour, with many funny personal anecdotes wherein Fish herself even finds it hard to practice what she preaches. She certainly can laugh at herself, and you realize this when your read the book. But Fish, takes complaining to heart. 
First off, she tells us to keep calm by letting a little time pass before raising your complaint. “If you call in and you feel upset, you’re less likely to get the problem resolved.  Secondly, you need to be concise: be clear in your head what exactly you’re complaining about. Cross out the ones that aren’t that important. Next, you need to choose the desired result you want – what you are aiming for before you engage in the complaint.”   
Here Fish revealed that so many people just get angry, but don’t give ideas as to how to make things right.   
“Make a suggestion as to how to fix the specific problem. For example, if you get a bad haircut, let them know politely, and let them know what it will take to make you happy. For example, you can ask for a refund, a free product or a gift certificate.”   
Fish’s complaint book came about from both her personal and professional life experiences. She’s been an ombudsman for several Health Care Centres, including Maimonides, Jewish Elder Care and Miriam Home.  
She did this for five years, and is presently Director of Operations and Quality for Maimonides and Jewish Elder Care.  
Needless to say, Fish has met her fair share of complaints and very often they are expressed during her public speaking engagements.  
“Many people will ask me for advice about the personal problems they are having at work or with a family member or friend.  She began to see that another book was needed to address these problems that involve personal contexts. So, she’s working on writing another book. It offers 29 tips that have a trial and error modus operandi application. In fact, the book deals with how to effectively complain to people who are rather “difficult”. We all know about those types. This second complaint book will be out next spring. 
Fish believes in the adage: try, try, try again: but advises us to “Use different strategies if the first or second one doesn’t work”.  
She has a Masters Degree in Health Administration from the University of Toronto, and did her undergraduate degree in psychology at Brandeis University in Boston
She’s also worked at the American Academy of Neurology, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He she specialized in quality improvement which centres on mistake prevention. 
Married with three kids aged 14, 12 and 8, Fish has ample opportunities to test old and new strategies. “Every day I discover new ways to keep my kids on their game.”   
If you read Amy’s weekly highly humorous blog, you’ll discover just how much she has to fend off complaints about herself. After all, it’s not a prefect world, and Fish is the first to own up to her imperfections.   
“The Art of Complaining Effectively” is available at Bibliophile, 5519 Queen Mary Rd.; Espace Tricot, 6050 Monkland Ave.; the Mortimer Snodgrass gift store, 56 Notre Dame St. W.; the gift shops of the Jewish Eldercare Centre, 5725 Victoria Ave .and the Maimonides Geriatric Centre, 5795 Caldwell Ave.