I belong to a few professional organizations. Some I’m a member of the board or a committee, others I’m just a regular member. Some I pay for, some I’ve been asked to join. Even as a regular member, when I feel something needs to be said, I’m someone who says it, no matter where the forum.

Last week there was something on one of the organization’s websites that irritated me. I was going to say something but another person who’s a member said that I should just leave it alone. I let that stir in my mind for a couple of days, then decided that I couldn’t let it go. It was something that was affecting the entire organization and could affect those people with whom we hope to do business with at some point, which meant both people associated with the group and people not associated who might be looking for specific types of services or products.

The question was to whom do I speak to about it, and how. I thought about it for awhile, then decided it needed to be seen by the real people in charge, not one particular person, and thus I went to that organization’s group page on LinkedIn and put out my complaint. I spelled out the error in detail so that no one would write me back to ask me to explain what the problems were. I didn’t get technical, I just stated what I was trying to do and why I felt that it needed attention.

One of my business friends who also happens to be both a member of this organization and this group asked me if I was worried that my posting it in an open forum could hurt me in some fashion. When I asked why she asked what if someone perceived me as a troublemaker.

That’s an interesting thought, one that I hadn’t really considered when I wrote my post. However, I had considered many other things before I wrote it. Often I’ve talked about being ready for any consequences of one’s actions, and thus I had thought about the potential consequences. Here’s what I came up with:

1. If I was complaining about something, which is rare for me, then the possibility is strong that someone else has the same issue.

2. If the issue has been there for awhile, and it was, then obviously someone already knew about it yet hadn’t done anything about it, and I wanted to know who might know about it and if anyone had either thought about doing something about it or actually liked how it looked so they could explain it to me.

3. I only know one or two of the specific powers that be as it pertains to who’s on the board, and based on the issue I was having with the website, I didn’t even know how to look their information up, yet I knew that many of those same people were in the group, so I knew posting there would reach the most number of the right people.

4. I’m a paid member and my money was happily accepted, and as such, board member, committee member or not, I have the right to either compliment or complain about something as long as I make a rational presentation of my issue.

The consequences? My complaint was shared with the people who are supposed to fix it, and they went to work on it. The person sharing the complaint knew about the problem and said she’d been frustrated in trying to get it working; that proves someone knew about it already but nothing was being done about it. Interestingly enough, none of the powers that be even commented on it; that will be for another time I suppose.

Did I worry about being a troublemaker even after my friend asked me the question? Not in the least. Troublemakers go out to intentionally ruin things for someone else for their own unknown benefit. My intention was to get something that’s supposed to work for everyone fixed. There’s no direct correlation between doing or saying what’s right to correct something wrong and doing or saying something just because you want to be heard. My conscience was clear, my motives pure, and now at least someone is doing something about it.

Do you feel that if you complain about something you’re making waves? Why would you tolerate it, especially if you’re paying for it?