Archives for posts with tag: Honesty

I meant to call my wife the other day, but ended up calling the next name down my favourites list, my youngest brother. His 8-year old son answered the phone. The call went like this:

  • Hello?
  • Oh…[nephew’s name], is that you?
  • Yes, who is this?
  • It’s your uncle Paul, sorry, I called you by mistake..
  • Do you want to speak to my Dad?

Kids are great, aren’t they? They have no filter. You always know where you stand with them.

As we get older we develop layers of self-consciousness and diplomacy. Consequently, we have to peel back layers with adults to get to what they really mean. Sometimes this can present a challenge with sales and marketing, especially when we’re looking for feedback or indication from a customer about what they really think of our product, service or company.

The number of layers each adult has depends on their own unique filter setting. As you probably know, some adults have a low filter setting, blurting out exactly what they think in an uncontrolled fashion, or else telling you exactly what they think because that leaves no room for ambiguity. I much prefer this, as honesty is true feedback, as long as they don’t express it in a needlessly nasty way.

Many adults on the other hand, and this varies culturally, have a high filter and our job is then to try and get to what they really mean, by probing and asking essentially the same question in a different way.

Do you know what I find pretty shocking these days? When a company doesn’t admit they were wrong, or they made a mistake, or their service failed to live up to expectations.

Now there’s a small chance a company didn’t know that its website was down for a good while, for example, but it’s a very small chance these days. When was the last time you saw a company admit they messed up, unless they were forced to because a PR issue they could have stemmed early has spiralled into a nightmare?

I recently got an email from a company whose stuff I subscribe to, because it’s very good content. The email came thru with the subject line exactly like this: [insert subversive subject line]. I kid you not. It’s wrong on so many levels, even when you try and explain it away as deliberate, but I never saw a subsequent apology.

Companies seem to want to sweep it under the corporate carpet, forget it ever happened, or else hope that no-one noticed. They hardly ever say ‘mea culpa’ unless they have to. Wouldn’t it be the most refreshing thing in the world if you went onto a website and there was a prominent statement to the effect of:

“Do you know something, our website was down for 2 hours last Thursday, and that might have been when you were browsing it. If that’s the case, we humbly apologise for your experience not being up the standards we set ourselves. We’ll try our best not to let it happen again.”

Do you think it will send their customers’ lawyers scurrying off to see if they can eek out a few bucks for a broken SLA? Do you think it’ll send their stock price plummeting and plunge the world’s markets into disarray? Probably not. A little bit of honesty, humility and integrity will in all likelihood have the opposite effect.

This is what it boils down to. It shouldn’t be a case of ‘Phew, got away with that one, let’s chalk it up to good fortune’ but rather ‘We should do better, we should come clean and we should redouble our efforts to live up to our brand promise.’

It’s OK to say ‘I’m sorry, my fault.’  In fact I encourage it, especially if you manage people.

The trouble is, it’s almost always expediency over effort.

Have you noticed how much in business and pleasure is governed by disingenuous and disrespectful language?

Life is competitive, otherwise it would be pretty dull, but these days we get subjected to so much of this:

– Hype

– ‘Trash talking’

– Misinformation

– Hearsay

– Mind games

The biggest lie is that you only get honesty, sincerity and respect the day after a political election, competition, contest or the death or retirement of an adversary. A day or two after that, the gloves are back on and it’s business as usual.

How much differently and enjoyably would we view the world we work and live in if the way everyone dealt with other people, teams and companies was open and respectful? Politically speaking (with a small ‘p’), if everyone who had a gun shot themselves it would be problem solved, to paraphrase a certain George Harrison