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To Peers

Guidelines : To Peers

Complaining to Peers

Guidelines and Alternate Phrases

Let the reader know immediately your exact complaint.

View your letter as a request for action or cooperation rather than a complaint. Find positive motivators, if possible, such as smoother operations, safety, savings in time and dollars, and goodwill from outsiders.

Because we are all so very busy, it is easy to forget the seemingly minor details that make our equipment operate efficiently. Would you give special attention to the following matters so we can all save our maintenance dollars?

Bill, can you help me save us all a little time?

I know you’re looking forward to the commissions that can be generated from such a deal–if we are successful in finding a way to solve the customer’s current problem.

Give enough detail so the person stepping in to remedy the situation knows or recalls what has happened in the past. But be brief; avoid throwing in irrelevant details about how much trouble the situation has caused you–unless such detail is pertinent to correcting the problem or creates urgency. Always give names or dates involved and copies of past correspondence for the reader’s convenience in following and verifying what you say. By informing the reader of your previous action, you eliminate repetition of those non-solutions.

Suggest, even though you can’t command, the specific action you want your reader to take to resolve the matter; do not coach the solution in vague generalities. If you have no solutions to the problem yourself, then say so. Such humbleness gives a more conciliatory tone.

I must admit I don’t have any solutions at this point. But I do know we need to discuss this seriously.

Would you send two additional copies of each month’s report?

Will you give me your answer by May 2?

I suggest your representative make another sales call on the client to explain this policy.

Don’t sound self-righteous or aggressive; use a conciliatory tone. First, that means not assuming the harm or mistake has been intentional. Don’t take away all your reader’s possible “excuses” for the situation; allow him or her to save face. (There’s no harm done in his saving face as long as the problem gets corrected.) Second, use “I messages” to minimize attack on the other person: “I do not feel my staff and I are up-to-date on the project or have had sufficient input about our specific needs.” Not: “You have not kept us up-to-date on the project, and you have not allowed us sufficient input about our specific needs.”

Use passive voice when describing someone’s error; this construction prevents an accusing tone: “The entries in step 2 were miscalculated.” Not: “You miscalculated the entries in step 2.”

Finally, include courtesy words such as please, thank you, and we would appreciate.

Use humor when you can to attract attention to the problem and make the corrective action less arduous. Make sure, however, you know your audience so your humor is not offensive or does not make light of a situation others consider “no laughing matter.”

Show confidence that the complaint will be handled appropriately.

End on a business-as-usual note; reestablish rapport.

If I can help you further in solving the problem, let me know.

Please join me in our efforts to make this discouraging situation an ultimate success.

I hope the next time we correspond, it can be under less difficult circumstances.

I hope we have this situation all cleared up by the next time our paths cross.

Give my regards to your staff and thank them for the extra effort this resolution will require.

Although we were caught in a somewhat uncomfortable situation, things should improve drastically and soon.

Example 1: Example letter for Complaint to peers

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip


We have spoken on the phone twice about the circuit outages over here in our building. I have decided it might be helpful to you if I supplied the attached list of sites with reference numbers. Should I expect the job to be completed by Monday?

If not, please let me know by Friday because I will have to readjust the weekly work schedule of all our people to accommodate the delay.

Thank you,


Example 2: To Peers Letter

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Ken:

During the past four months, my customer has requested help from us on four different BT2 problems. He also asked for on-site assistance April 6-7, which was rejected. The four BT2 problems brought his complete system down nine times; twice I had to help him completely rebuild his database.

I have absolutely no expertise in solving the problem and am at your mercy in letting him know if we can come up with an answer. The customer has come to the conclusion we do not appreciate or value his business at all. I know you are as concerned about retaining this $200,000 contract as I am.

Would you please call me Thursday afternoon to discuss your ideas and projected deadlines for this overdue help we owe our customer?


Example 3: Letter of Peers

Company Name or Letterhead
City, State Zip


City, State Zip

Dear Meg:

We missed your input at last week’s status meeting. I reported on developments from your division, but the information may not have been completely accurate.

Representation at the meeting by all areas is the best way I know to ensure a forum for timely discussion of information and alterations in the project plans–alterations that may affect more than one area.

Please be sure to have a representative from your division attend the July 8 meeting at 2 p.m. in N-10.


Example 4: Sample letter for Complaint to peers





SUBJECT: Computerized Purchasing System

Frankly, John, I am dissatisfied with the development of our mutual project to computerize the purchasing system. I do not feel my staff and I are up-to-date on the project or have had sufficient input about our specific needs. Therefore, I don’t want to proceed with the plans until we talk further.

I would like to meet with you , Tom Brown and Fred Smith on Thursday morning at 8:00. Please contact my office if there is a schedule conflict.

On January 6 after a meeting with Ted Jones, I enclosed in a memo to him our comments on the data printout form he was proposing. However, I’ve had no written response from him or subsequent discussions about how our needs can be met with the programming. Then on February 16, we noted and questioned the purpose of your requisition 1224-55 for contract programming services. I talked with Merle White by phone, and she assured me this requisition had nothing to do with our project but rather was for work done for the Indonesian group. So, of course, when Tom Brown and Fred Smith visited me this week and wanted to know where I wanted two data processing consoles installed, I asked them to wait until I had further discussions with you to make that decision.

Attached are copies of the past correspondence so you can easily follow the development of events.

I look forward to our meeting so we can get on with this project.


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