#44 Learn to write a good letter of complaint

From time to time people will screw you over.  I’m sorry.  It upsets me to think that anyone would screw you over dear Lottie, but they will.  You may be treated unfairly at work,  or hire someone to deliver a service which they do badly, you may have a gripe with your bank or have received bad customer service somewhere.

Don’t allow a knee-jerk reaction destroy your chances of obtaining justice.  Instead of shouting and swearing, step back from the situation and deal with it from a calmer perspective once the initial anger has dispersed.  I always try to send my letters of complaint (or phone calls) from a rational viewpoint, rather than a hot headed one.

And make sure you do always say something if you have been treated badly, unfairly or without respect, because you deserve as much respect as every other person on the planet.  Be firm, but rational, take no nonsense.

Restorative Approaches:

I work for a lovely company, who taught me a structure and gave me the language to express myself clearly when I’ve found myself in these situations.  You may not only find this useful as an adult, but perhaps also to resolve conflict you experience whilst younger too.

When I see / hear you: When I see that someone has ignored my first letter of complaint

I tell myself that: They neither respect me as a customer nor care about my continuing custom

So I feel: Upset and angry

What I need is: Communication and respect

(This is what YOU need, not what you need them to do)

Would you be willing to: Respond to my earlier letters, and my requests of you as a company.

(This is the action you would like them to take, to resolve the issue.)

There you have the bare bones of your complaint letter, it’s a really good structure for these conversations to sit in and you come across as a rational (not a shouty) person.  You have both recounted their actions, shared how they affected you: what they made think and feel (these are different) and have told them directly and precisely what it is you want from them.  Nobody’s a mind reader, my rule is, you ask: you get  (not always, but much more chance if you ask, then wait for them to guess.)

Obviously you can write these points in to a well crafted letter or email, or bullet point them and speak them in a phone conversation.  I have been using this structure for just over a year now, and although sometimes there’s a little bit of follow up to do after, it gives you a really good springboard in to a conversation and covers all the points you need to after a situation has arisen.

So use this, have your voice heard, and don’t take any nonsense from anyone!


Me and Uncle Simon, sorting our differences the non-restorative way.

MakeBelieve Arts use Restorative approaches in schools and in their work with children and young people.  Read more here.

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