The Gift of a Complaint
Submitted by: Sarah Yanosy, Director of the Sanctuary Institute
Today was not my day. I had three different conversations with three different people who felt compelled to let me know they were dissatisfied, disappointed or disillusioned with some part of how the Sanctuary Institute had managed things. As its leader, I take these conversations both very seriously and very personally. Each of the three referenced completely different situations, so I did not even find the luxury of resolving one big problem with several different people. Oh, no. Each conversation brought a new wave of knowledge about the tenderness of feelings and the ease with which they can be injured…and a new wave of nausea along with that knowledge.
Part way through my third difficult conversation today, I had a bit of a revelation. At first I thought that I had simply lost my marbles, but dismissed that in favor of the belief that I had gained some insight. Here was said insight: I realized that the initiators of each of these conversations had actually given me a gift by calling to tell me their complaints.
Yes, that’s it. You may now also be questioning the location of my marbles, but here is why I think it was an insight: Rather than holding on to feelings that could fester into toxicity, these three people reached out for repair. Rather than stifling emotions that could become quick fodder for reenactment, they offered me the chance to create a new foundation of understanding by giving me the chance to share another viewpoint, missing information or an apology in one case. I know that the stories they brought to me about their experiences were radically different from the stories that I had constructed about the exact same events. By sharing their stories and giving me the opportunity to share mine, we were able to create an appreciation for the complexity we may have missed and a shared vision for the future.
I have found that many times, going a few rounds with another person over something we both feel strongly about can result in deeper respect, enhanced communication and a sturdier platform for the next time we don’t see eye to eye. That is certainly how I feel about the three people I spoke with today. I hope they feel the same.