While you don’t want to get a reputation as a chronic bellyacher or whiner, there are times where it is appropriate to complain. In fact, complaining in these situations is the right thing to do. Here are some examples of where you should speak up:

When you are treated poorly by a business

If you have had horrendous customer service through no fault of your own, you should say something.  In such a case, complaining isn’t just about venting; it’s also about letting them know about problems in the business.

Generally speaking, for every person that complains, there are 10 others who were just as unhappy, but did not complain. If the business is a reputable one, they will generally do something to make it up to you, if only give you an apology. So it may actually do some good. However, keep in mind that with some companies, even if you reach the CEO, you may not get any satisfaction for your complaint. So keep that in mind.

When you see unethical or illegal behavior, especially at the workplace

All you have to do is look at the newspapers and see the scandal du jour to learn what happens to those in charge who turn a blind eye to misconduct. So if you are and a manager and you know something wrong is happening, you need to speak up. Of course, saying something is not an easy road, but think about this: would you be able to justify or explain your behavior if the New York Times were to write about it? Career coaching experts say that in such cases, you need to speak up.

When you are being harassed or discriminated against at work

This is another tough situation. And there is no guarantee that even if you do complain, that things will change for the better. In fact, you could face severe blowback. But it if the situation is intolerable,you need to speak up.

In summary, remember to complain constructively. You don’t want to come across as someone who gripes at the drop of a hat. Here are some tips on when to complain:

  • Don’t complain to people who can’t solve your problems. Trust us – your friends and family do not want to hear you griping all the time.
  • Pick your spots: Save your complaining for egregious behavior.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Stay calm when you are complaining.
  • Be aware that complaining could have consequences. Of course, in some situations, not complaining can have consequences, too.