|Project Support Communication - Meetings (HABITAT, 1986, 42 p.)|
The interview is, together with staff meetings and speeches in public, one of the most common and frequent types of interpersonal communication.
Interviews are required, for instance, when personnel has to be recruited, when candidates in a low-income housing project come to apply for a plot, loan or some other service, and when allottees want to lodge complaints about the services rendered.
We will not discuss how all these interviews are conducted, but only look at dealing with complaints, as this is usually the most sensitive type of interview and requires the most skill.
Why to deal with complaints?
An important aspect of PSC is the possibility of lodging complaints. This possibility not only opens up a very important channel of communication but also creates confidence in the project. It gives project participants, much more than anything else, the feeling that they are being heard.
Authorities usually distrust this means of communication, assuming that it allows people to abuse the system and that it creates a lot of extra work. There may be some truth in this, but it is still a good investment. The chances are that, through consultation about complaints, frustrations can be avoided which would be much more damaging to the project than any abuse of the consultation system itself.
For a consultation system to be effective three conditions have to be fulfilled:
1. The procedure for lodging complaints has to be well-established, so that the complaints are promptly examined and decisions taken in a short time, for instance within 10-14 days. One month should be the absolute limit for complicated cases.
2. There should be a suitable venue for lodging complaints, such as the project's site office, and it should be open after working hours and during the weekends.
3. The person dealing with the complaints should be skilled in doing so.
When the above conditions cannot be fulfilled, the system for lodging complaints will probably be perceived by the project participants as a clever way to DIFFUSE complaints.
The first two conditions can be met by proper organization of the project, including clear and simple procedures for following up on complaints.
Since the third condition is very much related to skill in interpersonal communication, there are some pointers that can help the person dealing with complaints to become an effective 'public relations' agent for the project and the community.
As a group, list five golden rules for helping a person deal
effectively with complaints. Use your imagination freely and only select the
best proposal s when the group runs out of ideas.
List your rules in the space below.
As a group, discuss which procedures for lodging complaints you know from your own experience and where they are being dealt with.
Then write in the space below why you consider local procedures adequate or inadequate in relation to the housing needs of the low income people.
DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS - ROLE PLAY
Depending on the number of teams in the group and whether video is used for feedback. (Approx. 1 to 1.5 hours).
Instructions for trainer
1. Make teams of two persons.
2. Explain the situation to the whole group:
The role play is about an angry housebuilder who has come to the municipal office to complain about being harassed by a Building Liaison Officer (BLO). (The BLO is the person charged with controlling construction progress in a sites-and-services scheme.) The housebuilder believes the BLO is unfair in his inspections, that the regulations are too strict and that the BLO is favoring the other builders by being less strict with them. The role pl ay begins when the angry housebuilder walks into the office of the municipal officer who supervises the BLOB.
3. There are two roles available, housebuilder and municipal officer. Let each person in each team decide which role to play.
4. Give each team member ten minutes to study his or her role. Emphasize that participants should be creative in their approach, drawing upon their knowledge of this type of situation.
5. Let the first team act out the situation, while the other teams observe. Give each team three minutes to complete the discussion.
6. When all teams have played, reverse the roles and repeat the exercise.
7. Evaluate the exercise.
Note: Best results are obtained when the discussions of each team are recorded on video and played back for evaluation at the end by the instructor and participants together. If no video is available, each team should prepare a list of teams and give each one a rating of: good, average, or poor.
In addition, they should make notes on the specific strong or weak points they observed in the presentations of the other teams. Teams should not give a score to themselves.