Sometimes clients are unhappy with you, and no matter what you do to resolve the situation, they decide to file a formal complaint against you. There are several things that you should do if and when this happens as follows:
1. DON'T PANIC - This is not the end of the world and definitely not the end of your career. The process for resolving this may be long and stressful but it is important that you keep things in perspective. This is ONE complaint in the midst of many happy clients.
2. SEEK SUPPORT - Make sure you have opportunity to consult with someone in your profession who has experience and insight into the complaint process. Your family and friends may not understand the process whereas a peer will have understanding and can provide professional support.
3. DON'T EXPECT THIS TO BE RESOLVED IMMEDIATELY - Bureaucracies are usually very slow and it may take months (or years) for an investigation to the completed.
4. CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY - As soon as you are aware that a formal complaint has been filed, contact the company that holds your liability insurance.
5. OBTAIN LEGAL REPRESENTATION - Your insurance company will likely recommend lawyers who have expertise in this field. It is acceptable to interview lawyers until you find one who you want to represent you.
6. ENSURE YOUR FILE IS IN ORDER - Go through the file to make sure that everything is in order. You cannot make changes to the notes and documents but you can ensure that everything is filed appropriately.
7. DO NOT TALK TO THE COMPLAINANT OR PUBLIC ABOUT THE COMPLAINT - You will need to follow the advice of your lawyer. If you do need to talk, consider hiring a therapist to help you through the stress.
8. CONTINUE TO PROVIDE GOOD SERVICE FOR YOUR CLIENTS - You have an obligation to help your clients with their problems. Focus on them when you are with them.
9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - Remember to use good health practices. Sleep, proper nutrition and exercise will help you to avoid illness and help you deal with this situation.
10. BE HONEST - If you did make a mistake, admit it. Perhaps you can take a weakness and turn it into a strength with the appropriate help.
Formal complaints can place a great deal of pressure on you but you cannot focus all of your energy and attention on the issue. Remember to continue to enjoy your life, relationships and career. Like my wise grandma used to say "This too shall pass".
Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org