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The HIDDEN reasons people complain

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Putting a loved one into the care of another is such a difficult and highly charged decision to make. Feelings can run high. Somebody is giving you their most valuable, treasured item and saying, “here, please look after this.” Expectations can be sky high.

They are right to demand high standards, we all want to give the very best service, or at least we should.

But we have all experienced those ‘difficult’ relatives, the ones who are never satisfied, for whom nothing is right. You dread the car pulling into the car park, or the number coming up on the caller display. You know you are in for a hard time again.

Bracing yourself you await the inevitable and sure enough the relative heads straight for your office.

As they launch into their usual tirade, a complaint about something really trivial probably, you really start to listen. A hidden voice starts to be heard. You can hear it in-between their words, the untold message, the reasons left unsaid:

‘I miss my mum’

‘I feel so guilty’

‘I’m really hurting’

‘I promised never to put her in a home’

‘I am so ashamed I cannot look after her myself’

They want you to look after their loved one exactly as they would. Of course you cannot do that, you never will. You are not them.

They are confused, guilty, ashamed and all of those emotions need to get it out somewhere, to be released, and you are an easy target. The unmade bed, the meal last night, laundry.

Understanding that what a ‘difficult’ relative is saying is often not what they are really meaning is a big leap forward, not least for your own sanity.

Step back, don't make it personal. Understand.

Martyn Dawes is a Coach, Social Care Consultant, and Author of The Overwhelmed Manager: What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

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