Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Almost everyday,

  • with slightly dispiriting inevitability,

  • someone in our vicinity will hurt us in some way.

  • It could be a friend,

  • a colleague,

  • a child, or most likely,

  • a partner.

  • They'll be neglectful of something that matters

  • immensely to us.

  • They'll be, to a greater or lesser extent,

  • unkind, thoughtless, offensive or brusque.

  • We may never have given much thought to observing the way

  • we characteristically respond.

  • And yet, our style of reacting to maltreatment

  • goes right to the heart of who we are

  • and can make the difference between

  • a life of constant frustration and bitterness

  • and one of tolerable coexistence.

  • A crucial part of the art of living

  • seems to lie in knowing how to complain constructively and sanely to those who do us wrong.

  • There are broadly 3 main ways in which one might complain.

  • The first is live fury.

  • Here, we explode, shout, insult, belittle and

  • attempted to crush our opponent.

  • What lies behind this response is, at heart, panic and agitation

  • and a catastrophic feeling of hurt and betrayal.

  • The slight to our dignity cuts us so deep,

  • unsettles us so much,

  • we attempt to roar our way out of humiliation.

  • Our bark may be loud but it

  • comes from a place of extreme vulnerability.

  • We're living without a psychological skin.

  • Unfortunately, of course,

  • live fury is guaranteed to

  • prevent our complaint from ever being heard.

  • In the face of our ranting,

  • those who've offended us, will themselves get offended,

  • begin to resent us,

  • refuse to listen and accuse us of a raft of things

  • which entirely bury our original

  • complaint against them.

  • We achieve nothing.

  • There is a second option.

  • Cold fury.

  • Here one says very little but

  • hates very deeply and quietly.

  • We don't dare to complain directly from a despair

  • that the other would ever understand.

  • Fuelled with a feeling that we don't

  • deserve ever to be listened to.

  • A primitive self-hatred encases us in

  • cynicism and melancholy.

  • We become experts at withdrawal.

  • We've probably been like this from a young age.

  • The adults we grew up around were probably

  • too touchy, busy, domineering or absent to

  • give us much of a hearing.

  • So we learn to swallow our pain and while seething inside,

  • act with brittle courtesy and veiled aggression against those hated characters who've done us wrong.

  • Then comes that far rarer achievement.

  • Mature complaint.

  • In order to master such a feat,

  • we must work with a background sense that

  • we don't fundamentally deserve meanness

  • and also that it won't on its own ever

  • be able to destroy us.

  • We are calm because we like ourselves well enough,

  • a legacy of being cared for by people who

  • liked us and refuse to endure

  • punishment quietly or with masochistic patience.

  • We have the confidence not to

  • be thrown into complete disarray by insult.

  • We can seek restitution and

  • tend to do so fairly fast while the incident is still fresh in everyone's mind,

  • but with a measured, strategic, calm manner

  • of people secure in their right to have their say.

  • We're careful not to insult or

  • belittle our opponents.

  • We always simply say how we feel.

  • Rather than declaring, "You're vindictive and selfish for doing X,"

  • we say, "I feel hurt by the way you do X."

  • We don't give others easy excuses to get

  • insulted and block their ears in turn.

  • We don't want to make it that simple for them.

  • Nevertheless, we don't have

  • unlimited faith that people are always

  • going to understand and accept what

  • we're trying to tell them,

  • yet we want to speak out anyway.

  • Because we know it's not good for us to swallow our

  • complaints and we don't want ulcers.

  • We are at once realistic about the chances of

  • dialogue and determine to talk in any case.

  • We deserve a huge amount of compassion for our failure to know how to complain wisely.

  • Our inability is a snapshot into our past and into some properly troublesome dynamics that occurred long ago.

  • But by sketching the ideal style of complaining,

  • we can start to imagine what we're not natively capable of

  • and to fill in through reason and reflection

  • what we haven't been able to achieve through upbringing and love.

  • We can take our first stumbling steps on the path

  • to mature complaint.

Almost everyday,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 US complain complaint fury insult swallow mature

How to Complain

  • 11662 1126
    Evangeline posted on 2021/03/15
Video vocabulary