Feedback Therapy

Through my working life, I’ve handled and had to respond to the odd letter of complaint. So, here are a few tips on the basis of my own experience.

Don’t write a letter of complaint. Give feedback. A letter of complaint sounds like this: whingy, whingy, whine, whine, I’m the centre of the universe, mehne nah nah, poo poo. Feedback though, feedback is reasoned and calm and logical.

State facts, not emotions. Avoid words like ‘disappointed’, ‘devastated’, ‘upset’, ‘angry’ or ‘shocked’. Avoid exaggerated phrases like ‘I just couldn’t believe that’ or dramatising rhetoric. On that note, there’ll be no name calling. You know this already, right? Good.

Find calmness. This isn’t easy. The whole reason you might write a letter/email of complaint feedback is because you are, at the very least, quite annoyed. There are a couple of things you can do to ensure calmness. Firstly, write the letter you want to write. Let it pour out of your head like sewerage into a treatment plant. THEN treat it – throw it out, delete it, or set it aside. THEN, write the letter you should write. Secondly, get someone else to edit your letter or even write it on your behalf.

It’s not about you. I mean, it is about you, but you are giving feedback to prevent this from happening to someone else. Yes, really. You are the Good Samaritan trying to help. Thinking like this helps to distance you from the initial situation and makes it easier to sound rational and not whiny .

c040d166db35f50da0264149abfbff7cWas there malicious intent? It’s a good question to ask yourself before making a complaint giving feedback. Has someone been a complete arse, or was this likely to be an honest mistake, an error of judgment or badly managed? It’s usually not the former. It is not in a business’s interest to annoy people, inconvenience people or give poor service and if that is their game plan, don’t expect a decent response to your feedback. In that case, you may need to take your complaint feedback to the next level.

Find the plus side. If you’ve had good experiences mixed in with your bad experiences, mention those too.

Get perspective. Is your grandmother about to die due to her appalling hospital care, or are your monogrammed slippers two days late on their delivery? It’s okay to be annoyed but one must have perspective. Recognise when something is merely annoying but not a matter of life and death. Think about what is happening in the world right now. Read the news. Think about a terrorist attack in Jakarta, an earthquake in Nepal or the death of a loved one. Get perspective.

Move on. Is the argument worth your time and /or money? You may even decide they’re not worth it. In the wise words of Elsa, let it go. And if you can, well done you.

Sometimes, simply writing the letter is all the therapy you need.


An Award! Yay!

Thanks to Fairweatherpaddler at Home Grown Heaven, I’ve  been nominated for THE VERSATILE BLOGGER AWARD!

*Releases party poppers*versatileblogger11

Before you read on though, go check out Home Grown Heaven. It’s delightful, insightful, inspiring and practical. Her family are living the good life, so it’s hard work!

Go on. I’ll wait.

Looking around the  blogs of other fellow nominees, I feel privileged to be among these awesome folk.  I’m personally a little bemused with the title ‘versatile’. I suddenly feel the need to construct this post from origami.

Okay. So to the rules…

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Now, I follow an extensive number of blogs, all of whom are worthy of a nomination.  To keep things simple, I’ll focus on new blogs I discovered during Nano Poblano (or NaBloPoMo). They not only wrote some amazing, honest, emotive, funny stuff, they also shared the love by visiting fellow Nano Poblano bloggers. And, they took to time to comment on my over-thought blog posts!

But. No strings attached. As awesome and as awards are, I know they can sometimes be a burden. Sometimes you don’t have time, sometimes you’ve been nominated for this award already (or something similar) . It doesn’t matter, the point is, if you don’t wish to participate. I don’t mind. Just know – in case you weren’t sure – I think you’re amazing.

I wish to nominate:

A Heart on the Matter
Behind the Willows
Breaking Moulds
Judah First
Musings of an Eccentric Mind
Never Trust a Jellyfish
Part-Time Monster
Quixie’s Mind Palace
Sidereal Catalyst
Spoken Like a True Nut
The Tawny’s Blog

I seriously hope I haven’t left anyone off.

Seven things about me.

  1. My second toe is longer than my bigtoe, my third toe is the same length as my bigtoe. I’m a freak of nature.
  2. I have over 100 pictures hanging in my house, mostly saved from markets or junk yards. I haven’t counted them but I bought a packet of 100 hooks and ran out. Also, I’m fast running out of wall space.
  3. My birthday essentially starts with my first birthday card. Then I have my birthday. Then I’ll probably drag it out another week. Because, why not.
  4. Packing and organisation are my super powers. If you’re moving house, I’m your girl. If you need to fit a pile of stuff into the back of your car – move over.
  5. I suffer from this thing my family calls I-can-do-it-Kate Syndrome. If there’s something you can’t do (like taking a lid of a jar, for instance), I’ll be itching for a try.
  6. In my youth (in my youth! Crap, does that mean I’m no longer youthful!? Nooooooooo!) I could sit on my hair. People used to state, ‘Wow, your hair is really long’. It was profound.
  7. On that note, my favourite kind of humour is sarcasm.



Don’t Quote Me

I’ve managed to make it to Day 9 of Nano Poblano without writing a list blog. Except for the Lost post, but that doesn’t count because it wasn’t written in eleventh-hour panic. Today, I’ve drawn a blank but fortunately Ra kindly left a prompt page for such occasions. Although they are list-prompts, I read through them to see if one of them could inspire a non-list post.

“Stuff you’ve said that’s worth quoting”

I don’t think I’ve ever said something worth quoting, at least, nothing I can recall, but it reminded me of something a colleague said about me.

I had to make a phone call to give a client some bad news. On a bad-news scale, it was nothing drastic, but I was about to tell someone something they didn’t want to hear. After I’d hung up the phone my colleague said, “Wow you’re so good at that – shattering people’s dreams! You know just what to say!”

We laughed.

“Perhaps it’s my lame super power. ”

“You  should be called The Disillusionist!”

I suppose the nice word for it, is diplomacy. People have remarked before that I have the right words – I know what to say and how to say it. I’ve always been the mediator among friends, the messenger between colleagues and the one who steadies the boat.

I guess I’ll never know how many people who I’ve left with the wrong words but I always remember moments where I believe my words have helped people cope, no matter how obscurely.

nanopoblano2015darkA few years ago, a friend of mine lost a member of their family. She paced, trying to walk away from her tears and eye contact with the people offering to help carry her pain.
“Why?” she asked, “I don’t understand why awful things always seem to happen to good people.”

“No one talks about the bad people.” I said.

And she smiled, for a brief moment she smiled.

Day Five: The Fear of Desperation

nanopoblano2015darkOkay, so it’s NanoPoblano or NaBloPoMo and I’m trying to avoid list-blogs. To that end, I’ve looked to The Daily Post for inspiration and found this topic, ‘Phobia Shmobia’. And really, it’s doesn’t matter what it inspires, does it?

I’ve always found phobias fascinating. My own main phobias include:

Atychiphobia – the fear of failure

Claustrophobia – the fear of enclosed spaces

Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders

Ophidiophobia – the fear of snakes

And some I can’t find a name for, like the fear of awkwardness. Why can’t it be called Awkwardphobia? Why does it have to be something-in-Latin-phobia?

The interesting thing about phobias is, they’re irrational. I have a friend who’s afraid of birds. She will cross the road to avoid walking through a folk of pigeons or seagulls. You couldn’t get her into a henhouse for love nor money. She finds them unpredictable. There’s a part of my brain that laughs with its logic. It asks – what threat do they pose!? Why are they to be feared!? Then, another part of my brain reminds me that fears are irrational. To some, my fear of spiders, snakes, enclosed spaces and failure are as illogical as her fear of birds.

Of course, there are ‘grades’ of everything. My fear of failure is my most debilitating fear. It’s not like I spend my life rigid with the fear of randomly confronting a spider or snake and I am still able to use an elevator without freaking out about the confined space. Logic does save me, most of the time. Things like awkwardness and failure are harder to define, but tangible fears I seem to handle okay. Which can be strange.

For instance, I’m not one to take a roller coaster ride. Not because I can’t, but because of logic. I wonder why people scream when they have some idea of what to expect. Which is hilarious because it makes me sound like no fun at all.

Oh my God, I’m no fun at all!

It’s weird, right? I’M WEIRD!

Firstly, let me clarify – I haven’t been on a OMG roller coaster ride. I live in an area where world-grade rides don’t exist so I (really) don’t know what I’m talking about. I took a local ghost ride once that was so underwhelming my friend beside me screamed just to give the cart behind us some hope.

The question The Daily Post asked was – have I overcome any fears?

Well, I’m blogging daily for the month of November.

As a failure-fearing-monkey, that’s progress.


Dear Friend,

It’s been a while since we last spoke. I hope you and yours are well. I hope you are happy.

I guess I wanted to say ‘hi’. I thought of us the other day and how we were as children. We’d  be called BFFs now. How much time did we spend growing up together? Remember how much we laughed? Remember when you got car sick and threw up in my parent’s car? I thought we would be forever friends, I thought we’d be bridemaids at each other’s weddings. But Time. It passed us by, it pushed us to different schools and different people. Maybe we weren’t as similar as I’d thought, maybe we were friends for as long as we needed to be. I tried to maintain contact but I felt your indifference and let you go.

I saw you once, when we were seventeen. You were the same but painted in makeup, blue eye shadow and black maskara. We said ‘hello’ and ‘good bye’ with one look. Silence always was your favourite conversation.

That was near twenty years ago now.

I really just wanted to say ‘hi’. If I’ve upset you somehow, I’m sorry. If I’ve done something to anger you, I’m sorry. I’m not expecting us to be BFFs. I’m not expecting us to meet for coffee or for the last twenty years to dissolve and we throw our arms around each other like it’s not weird.

It’s Time. Time and life. We’ve moved on, we are different people. You haven’t nanopoblano2015darkupset me. I’m not angry.

But, I don’t understand. After twenty odd years of wisdom, why did you blank me at the supermarket?

Silence always was your favourite conversation.

Take care, old friend.

Like, Eww

While out walking with Mum and Little Dog, we moved off the path to make room for a mother and her two children. The boy rode past on a bike and the girl followed on her scooter. I observed the girl briefly as she tried to keep up with her brother. She steered the handles with one hand and balanced an ice cream in the other. We’d barely moved on when the girl started crying, frozen to the spot with her empty cone in hand, looking mournfully at the lump of ice cream on the footpath.

The mother told the child it would be okay. She picked up the ice cream, checked it for obvious grit and plonked it back on the cone.

Mum and I walked on but discussed this turn of events with fascination.

‘I don’t think, even I could do that.’ she said.

I reminded Mum that she had. When I was seven while sat at the table, Mum accidently dropped my dinner. I cried and Mum scooped it all back onto the plate and put it front of me.

‘But I vacuumed that floor – that was the footpath! And ice cream is wet!’

‘A pastie with veggies and gravy?’

‘Oh yeah. Gravy onto floor we walk on, wearing shoes we use on footpaths.’ she looked momentarily shocked, ‘It’s really no different, is it?’

We laughed. I hadn’t caught anything from my floor-meal and the young girl at the park was likely to survive her pavement-ice cream.

a40e2d7e51ee5cbb439c6f8dfaceea07This led our discussion to cleanliness and the sense that there’s ‘clean’ dirt and dirty dirt. For instance, I’ve witnessed a baby drop its dummy (or pacifier, if you prefer) and a mother suck on it to ‘clean’ it before giving it back to her child.

At work the other day, after discussing what we needed for our communal kitchen, I suggested paper towel. ‘It’d be handy for if we spill something on the floor’

My colleague replied, “Oh? I just use the sponge.’

My brain then began itemising all the work-provided crockery I’d eaten off that I’d ostensibly washed with the floor. The growing number of shocked faces around us lead my colleague to defend her position, ‘But the dishwashing water cleans the cloth, doesn’t it?’ and later, ‘it’s okay really, isn’t it?’

Let’s not discuss what she did with the tea towel.

Mum has a friend who nearly vomits at the thought of a handbag placed on a table. ‘Handbags’ she says ‘have been on every floor, everywhere, including public toilets’. But then, she sleeps with her pets and, without thought, would eat food and lick her fingers after patting her dog. A friend of the family washes the windows of her house weekly, while her 1970s’ yellow food containers are so ingrained with four decades of cooking history, they’re brown.

This isn’t a judge-y blog post, I promise. I’m just illustrating how differently we all think about these things and, compared to the meticulousness of some friends, I’m a lazy cleaner. I only dust when it’s thick enough to write my name in it. I wash the kitchen floor sporadically, vacuum when it suits me (or I’ve made a dusty mess too significant to ignore) and leave the dishes a day and half too long before it hits my tolerance threshold and I wonder why I didn’t wash up sooner. I am lazy when it comes to household chores. But. But. I can’t stand stains in coffee cups, oily kitchen dust on food containers, rinsing dishes instead of washing them and the misuse of kitchen sink sponges.

We all have our limits.

And now we have paper towel in the kitchen at work.


Maybe it’s a strange mantra. I kind of fancy one that’s more about love or creativity but this one speaks to me. It’s been my survival mechanism for many years now.

The important thing is, it mustn’t be misconstrued. I’m not asking myself to imagine the worst things that can possibly happen in any given situation. I’m not wondering if the legs will fall off my chair or my house will fall down or I’ll be abducted by a squirrel with a limp. It sounds like a drastic question, but what it actually offers me is perspective.

I procrastinate. More than I’d like, and probably more than is ‘normal’. I’m procrastinating about writing this blog post. I’ve had the title and the first line written for two weeks. But like anything I undertake have to fight the naysayers in my head. They’re telling me I suck and that this blog post is so badly written I’ll be judged ad infinitum by all who visit here. So I ask myself, what IS the worst that could happen?

I might suck.

I might be judged for it.

And the next question is the important one.

Does that matter?

*posts blog*