Chocolate Pillow | Dealing with complaints: The Assertive Complainer
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Dealing with complaints: The Assertive Complainer

11 Dec Dealing with complaints: The Assertive Complainer

Previously I have discussed many different complainer types, and in this penultimate post of the series, I want to talk about the type of complainer who will always want to get their own way – the Assertive Complainer.

Many people will want to re-brand this complainer type as the selfish complainer, as it is probably just as apt a title to use.  It is important to understand that assertiveness is not about aggression or submission, nor is it about bullying your way in to something.  Being assertive is about being able to stand your ground when required and put your side of the argument across.  Assertive behaviour can be differentiated from aggressive or passive behaviour in the way the guest interacts with you:

  • Aggressive behaviour assumes I win and you lose
  • Submissive/Passive behaviour assumes you win and I lose
  • Assertive behaviour assumes we both win and no-one loses

Assertive behaviour has many different aspects to it, and can become very complex at times, particularly if you review Transactional Analysis (which defines how people interact)

Assertive complainers are people who simply stand their ground – they are usually people who will ‘complain because of the principle’ rather than to obtain anything.  They are also the complainer who will generally know exactly what they want as a resolution.  For example, they may come and complain stating they are not happy with paying for their room because of multiple reasons.  They will maintain they are not paying for the room and you may construe this as aggression… it isn’t!  It is assertion.  Think about when you have told a guest that their booking is non-refundable and they will not get any money back.  Unless you screamed and swore at them, you were assertive (unless of course you backed down at the first opportunity and refunded them!!  Being assertive achieves your goals, but also retains equality for all parties involved and ensures fairness.

Assertive complainers can seem difficult to deal with; often you will feel as though you have to ‘give in’ and provide what they want, but this is not the case in any way!  Being assertive allows room for negotiation, so you can reach a compromise fairly easily, just with a bit of haggling!  It is also worthwhile noting that assertive behaviour is about everyone being treated equally – you are likely to encounter a guest who (whilst forthright) is fairly logical and will be able to accept your arguments and point of view, using them to reassess their won stance on the scenario.  Whilst you may provide your points in the discussion, under no circumstances are you to entirely avoid responsibility.  The key is to accept responsibility, then work to negotiate, providing counter arguments.

As an example, the guest who says they will not pay for their stay because their room was not cleaned – apologise, and offer a discount instead as a starting point.  They will usually remain resolute that they will not pay, but then counter-argue with the fact that they did stay in the room, did not raid it to anyone and whilst you apologies, there is nothing that con be done at that moment to undo war has happened – vitally, increase your offer!

Assertive complainers just require gentle negotiation and acceptance of their point of view – remember that assertive behaviour is usually borne out of feeling unaccepted or unequal!  Make the guest feel validated and equal, and you will easily resolve their issues in a manner that suits both you and them!

Next time I talk about the final complainer type in the series – The Compensatory Complainer.

Matt Shiells-Jones

Husband, Author, Hotel Manager and ambitious 'old cat lady'

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