It’s easy to see a complaint as simple whining, the narcissistic impatience of someone who has enough insulation from the real world that they can share their dissatisfaction over just about anything.

But a complaint unheard gives us no way to improve.

In our current medical system, doctors can seek to minimize complaints, to explain them away with a negative test or a shrug of the shoulders. But the purpose of medicine isn’t to pass a test, it’s to improve the well-being of the patient.

We’re under no obligation to embrace or even listen to a complaint. We can always help the complainant by sending them to another vendor or professional who is eager to try to help.

But if we choose to engage, then the complaint is a gift. It’s a clue about what might be at the root of the problem.

And solving problems is our job.