How to complain without getting an earful of defensive, well, verbiage.
I learned this technique from a book on teaching: Quantum Teaching: Orchestrating Student Success.
Open The Front Door is a method of addressing and resolving conflict while maintiang the dignity of both parties..
The speaker, the complainer, maintains a mild tone of voice and avoids the kind of emphasis that is often interpreted as hostile language.
The steps MUST be done in this order
The speaker or (complainer says) this all at once--that is, you don't say the "open" statement, then wait for rebuttal, then go on. You say the whole thing on one calm, easy breath. (Nothing wrong with rehersing and crafting your statement.)
Open stands for observation and objective. The statement must be factual, observable, and verifiable.
"I see that you turned in all of your time cards promptly for the first six weeks of the project, but for the next three weeks, they are not in the record."
The stands for Thought The speaker's thought or opinion, using "I" statement, but no interrogations--no hostile "why didn't you" type of questions.
"I'm thinking that something is getting in the way of you turning them in, or maybe I didn't make it clear they had to be turned in every week."
Front stands forfeeling --the speaker's feeling about the observation.
"When the time cards aren't current, I feel frustrated because I can't get my work done, and I feel it reflects poorly on our team."
Door stands for desire --the speaker's desired outcome or intention for the situation.
"I want to be up-to-date with my work. I want our team to be respected."
In stands for invitation, which is where the speaker invites the listener to provide solutions.
"I wonder what you need to get the time cards in"
The key is the order of the sentences. By starting with observation, you and the person you are in conflict with can head off many misunderstandings. Adding in the Thought and Feelings pieces,
You can also use OTFD when you are praising or rewarding someone:
"When I went into our office, I saw that everything looked neat and clean. I thought you must have stayed late to tidy up. I feel so understood and respected when the office is the way I like it. I hope I can find something to do for you that makes you feel as good as I did."