December 16th 2020

How to Keep Cool in the Face of a Complaint

Without doubt, the last year has been difficult. As the world has changed so too have our daily lives, our responsibilities and our interactions both professionally and personally.

In these unprecedented times, stress and tempers can be at an all-time high. As pressures have mounted in the workplace, both as we adapt to new restrictions and ways of doing business, it is important to maintain a cool head when faced with additional challenges.

In today’s blog we offer our advice on how to handle individual temperaments through three key concepts.


Both for consumers and practitioners, we cannot overstate the importance of our first piece of advice: to be understanding.

As a practitioner, being understanding and showing compassion can often be the key to resolving a complaint. We all can relate to the difficulties and uncertainties faced at the moment and, without doubt, the current situation can be the context to understand why a client may be more stressed or respond in a more hostile manner than usual.

Likewise, as a consumer it is equally vital to understand that the practice is not operating as normal and working hard to provide the very best service in these difficult circumstances.

Understanding, more often than not, can help both parties to relate, to build a bridge and move towards a mutually beneficial outcome.


Listening is a central component of being able to take on board the nature of the complaint and the cause which can, at times, be often very different from the complaint itself which may have escalated and changed in nature.

Active listening is a skill to be mastered and requires an open and honest behaviour where the listener seeks to fully understand the speaker.

Firstly, pay attention to the speaker and give them your undivided attention whilst acknowledging both the message they are communicating and the emotions within. Show you’re listening through careful questioning and seek to understand their message in full. Defer judgement and show compassion to the individual whilst responding appropriately as you seek to resolve the issue together.

Often, when active listening is practiced the complaint and issue can be identified, the situation can be diffused and resolved.


There have been several studies on the complex topic of nonverbal communication with varying results. However, most experts agree that 70%-93% of all communication is nonverbal.

Nonverbal communication can be defined as ‘the transmission of messages or signals through a nonverbal platform such as eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, posture, and the distance between two individuals’.

We advise that an open posture be maintained, that eye contact is steady and respectful and an open and relaxed demeanour is adopted.

By actively employing positive nonverbal communication, a relationship can be built between the two-parties and move the issue forward.

What’s more, by helping the consumer to feel more comfortable and confident that their complaint is being listened to and in a safe and understanding space, the likelihood of it being resolved increases.

In these strange times we urge all to try to use our three key tips in all areas of life. Should you require any further information, or wish to discuss a matter with our team, contact the OCCS on 0344 800 5071 or via

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