I am a teacher and always spend time on your website. I have a problem with a parent who is always saying untrue and defamatory statements about my teaching effort. The parent claimed in a public forum that I was incompetent and not helping her child with anything. For the sake of the child (and confidentiality), do I just have to grin and bear it?
Too often, when parents go ballistic in a public forum, they do more to damage their child than they realize. When someone is always complaining they become known as a “constant complainer.” When a constant complainer then complains about you, listeners generally consider the source. Don’t just ‘grin and bear’ – use the Ms. Manners approach…
How to Raise Your Stock
Think of how Ms. Manners would handle such an issue. Remain gracious, always nice, continue to smile. If you can do this, your stock in the eyes of others will go up and the complainers stock will fall.
More than likely that complaining parent is acting out their own frustrations, usually because of a sense of powerlessness and inadequacy. Do not let yourself get into a struggle or battle with the parent. Instead, try to keep a positive relationship and dialogue open.
If you are successful in doing this, you will see a shift with the parent. That parent may continue to complain about others, but now you are different. You walk on water.
A Tough Approach
Parents send us almost identical emails about special ed directors, chairs of IEP meetings, and teachers. Parents explain they feel talked down to, belittled, humiliated in front of others and do not want to bite their tongue.
We give them the same advice. Try to create a shift, one to one, with that person. If successful, the parent is the one that comes out on top in the end. A former adversary sings the praises for the parent.
Using Intellect Instead of Emotions
It is a tough way to approach it, but it can work! It means using intellect rather than emotions to deal with the situation.
This is the basis of the concept in our book, From Emotions to Advocacy. In Chapter 5 we have a section on “complainers.”