Killing Relationships by Third Party Complaints

Be like NASCAR Drivers: be who you are up front. That also means not just dressing to say who you are, but being direct about what you do not like.


We all be able to vote with greater wisdom if our politicians aped the NASCAR drivers.

Third party complaining is venting to another person about something you do not like in yet another person and with the expectation they will tell the third other person.  Makes you able to be the good guy, but leaves two other people carrying your burdens.  Not healthy.

Moreover, the complaint carrier is just as much to blame for this. Positive relationships depend on respect and honesty. A complaint carrier does not respect the complainer’s ability to do the right thing. A complaint carrier  allows dishonesty to fester in the complainer.  Finally, a complain carrier does not respect the person complained about to do the right thing.

My second job as a trained social worker taught me this lesson.  The head of the department was a lovely woman, gracious, warm, kindly and revered by all. Her second in command was a Mrs. Lamb. No lamb she and both feared and hated by all for she was the bosses big and nasty enforcer.

Even worse when it happens in families and it happens there all too often.

Emotional fitness tips

Emotional Fitness tip one: The two parties involved in third-party complaining are both in the wrong. 

Emotional Fitness tip  two: Learn the art of feedback.  The complainer has to face all the fears involved in telling it like it is. The carrier has to tell the complainer “Your monkey, not my circus.”

Saying what you mean without saying it mean. Feedback suggestions.

Emotional Fitness tip three: Apply the rule of three. In baseball you get three strikes, three outs and the multiple of three found in nine innings. Even then all things being tied, the game goes on.

Applied to complaining for the complainer:

  1. When someone does something that makes you unhappy about something, just make a non-verbal gesture that makes a gentle point. Raised eyebrows, even a neutral face, or changing the subject make a quiet statement about your feelings.
  2. Second time the same thing happens, try feed back, but let it be known you disagree.
  3. Third time, ask for change.

Applied to the complaint carrier.

  1. At the first complaint,  just listen and nod your head.
  2. Second time, listen and say “This really seems to bother you.”
  3. Third time, say, ” You need to figure out how to ask for change directly or how to  let it go.”

Emotional Fitness tip four: How to ask for change:

#feelingmanagement #parenting tips #emotionalintelligence


Parenting tip one: As always, age and stage matter. The younger your child the more directly s/he makes it know what they do not like. Then parents and others teach kids to “Suck it up, buttercup” or “If you cannot say something nice don’t say something at all.” Not healthy.  Then come the pre-teens and teen years when at least parents are bashed. Also not healthy.

Parenting tip two:  Model proper expression of negative feelings. “Wait until your father/mother gets home” is third-party complaining. Not healthy.

Parenting tip three: Be patient. All change takes time for you and for the children you love. Become your child’s wise complaint partner. Than means listening and then helping them learn how to deal directly with others.


The stronger the relationship, the greater our fear that telling it like it is will only mess things up. The only sane answer, however, is to tell it like it is and work to work it out.

Think about this. Runaway spouses are a common example of pretending every thing is okay when they are not.  Runaway spouses are on the increase. Easy divorce and the media ranting to leave the person you are unhappy are only partially to blame.

The measure of all relationships lies not in how happy you are all the time, but how you deal with being unhappy. Being direct about your hopes and needs but then accepting that your happiness is up to you, being grateful, practicing kindness and forgiveness are key to living a good life.



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