The former client on the other end of the line was fuming. He had been discharged from our program that morning. The discharge was unfair. His roommates were being mean to him. The manager didn't understand where he was coming from. He rattled off a litany of abuses he had suffered at the hands of our staff and other clients.
"Did you have a part in any of this?" I finally asked him. The phone went silent for a moment.
Then he began explaining the details to me, as if he were presenting facts to a jury. He went on and on with minutia about the problems in our program. People didn't understand him. He had done a lot of volunteer work for which he'd receive no recognition. There were things he wanted to change about the program. He knew he could improve it.
I listened to what he had to say for several minutes. When I finally interjected I pointed out that there wasn't a lot he could do about how others behave. The only thing he could really change or control was himself. I explained that when I have problems with people I look first at myself.
I have no power or control over how anyone else communicates. Good communication flows from me.