I used to sit in awe — well, horror — of my grandfather, who would send back any and every restaurant meal at the slightest indication that it wasn't exactly what he had ordered or even if it wasn't just the right temperature. Now, I'm not suggesting that everyone adopt his ridiculously high standards, but I've definitely eaten food at a restaurant that wasn't what I ordered — I'm talking chicken when I ordered fish or cheese in my salad when I'm lactose intolerant. In fact, it's taken me years to develop the ability to advocate for myself. I was always embarrassed to say no, to say, "that's not what I ordered," or to tell a co-worker, "I'm sorry, I'm swamped and I can't help you right now."
I never wanted to be the person to say no, to cause a scene at dinner, hold up the checkout line, or have to deal with a customer service rep for longer than I had to. But after listening to my griping and complaining on the sidelines, my mother finally snapped me to my senses. "If you don't speak up for yourself, you don't have the right to complain to me," she declared. And that was the rule. I could no longer get away with grumbling about work, friends, roommates, landlords, or customer service. If it warranted action on my part, I was going to have to deal with it head on. When I'm being treated unfairly or taken advantage of, I now know to use my power as a consumer, my rights as an employee, tenant, etc. to be heard. And, even if it doesn't always mean that something will be done right away, at the very least I know I've said something and that I'm never going to be a victim simply because I was too shy or polite to speak up. So tell me, in work and in life, what warrants a complaint, and when and if do you say something? Do you voice your concerns and complaints or do you hold back?