Criticism goes only so far

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The Complaint Department is now open.

Heck, the Complaint Department is always open.

But what if you’re looking for the Compliment Department? Where’s that, and what are its hours?

Over time, people in the line of public service fire typically get used to the darts and rotten tomatoes hurled their way by impatient, indignant customers. Even when the complainants might be justified, their messages are too often delivered with unnecessary venom or disrespect. But that’s the world we live in, and until everyone wins the lottery and a cure for pain and sorrow is discovered, it probably will remain that way.

Compliments, on the other hand, are far more rare, although we would argue that passing along sincere compliments is even more satisfying to the complimenter than complaining is to the complainer.

So why is this today’s hot topic? Because of an experience shared by a Coeur d’Alene citizen this week.

The person witnessed a difficult situation that he felt was handled extremely well by two Coeur d’Alene Police officers. The citizen later went to the police station on Schreiber Way. His story goes like this:

“I wanted to fill out a comment form to say thank you and compliment the officers’ professionalism, but they have no mechanism for that. The officer at the window told me no one has ever come in for that so she did not know how to handle it.”

After a little more communication and effort, the compliment was taken down and put into the daily duty report, the citizen said. He was satisfied. We’re not.

Understanding that grease gravitates to squeaky wheels, we call upon the public to be more appreciative and expressive toward the wheels that spin silently. Behind such wheels is a person or people performing their jobs superbly. When you catch a public servant in the act of rendering excellent public service, why not say something to her or him? Better still, make sure his or her supervisors know.

What have we to lose? Low morale and inefficiency, perhaps. On the other side of the ledger, genuinely felt and expressed compliments can be contagious. Excellence can become the norm.

So if you don’t have a Compliment Department in your organization, please, consider this a complaint wrapped in velvet.

• • •

“If we had no faults we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others.”

— François de La Rochefoucauld

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