On Welcoming Complaints

One Pastor's Thoughts . . .


In this section . . .

It is not easy to be good at welcoming complaints. Most of us hate to have our shortcomings highlighted. If we choose to become defensive in the face of a complaint, then we miss an opportunity to make improvements. Defensive behavior usually makes things worse, and escalates a troubled situation.

Recently I had someone stop by to register a small complaint. They were very nervous about doing so; I guess they were afraid that I would not receive them well. [I hope I don't have that kind of a reputation].

I listened politely, let the person have their say and allowed them to get their feelings out for discussion. We sat and talked and I had the opportunity to explain the reason the decision was made. By taking the time to listen and explain the situation, a problem was defused and a relationship restored.

As a young man, I used to get defensive when someone would come in to complain about something. Being defensive never makes anything any better.

Somewhere along the line I grew up and learned that criticism is my opportunity to grow and become a better person. When someone comes to complain to me, I welcome them, listen carefully, and sit down and listen to them. Then I ask the question, "How can you help me to become a better pastor."

It is amazing what happens when you receive someone warmly when they are upset. Your welcome puts them at ease. Your listening gains their trust. Your openness to their correction usually totally befuddles them. People are just not used to being received warmly when they are upset. The whole dynamics of the situation changes and a healthy conclusion to the problem can be reached.

So, give this a try. The next time your spouse or one of your kids, or a coworker or whoever has you in their sights, relax. Don't be defensive. Welcome them in to sit down. Listen to them. Ask them how you can do a better job. Even if you are not wrong in the situation, it is a great way to win a friend.

When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Proverbs 16:7

God is not out to catch you on a technicality. ~ Bob Tuttle

God is not out to catch you on a technicality. ~ Bob Tuttle


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