Thursday, October 06, 2011

People (and Companies) Have Flaws - Have Understanding and Be Forgiving

Are you one who can forgive others for mistakes, mis-communications, and other mishaps after the situation is resolved?  Or do you hang onto the ill feelings forever?

I am not talking about intentional acts where the there is an attempt to screw you over or inflict harm, but instead those little things that happen when you deal with other human beings.  People have flaws and I believe we find more success when we have understanding and forgiveness in our soul.

We have begun to expect perfection from everyone (except, it seems, from ourselves). I found myself really pissed-off at the shoe sales people at Nordstroms last week when I took my daughter to by a pair of Sperry's.  They were packed on a Sunday afternoon and it took nearly 25 minutes for anyone to help us.  I did not vocalize my displeasure and I was not a jerk to anyone who worked at the store (but I did vent on Twitter).  Their system of who got service failed, as more than once a person walked in and got attention quickly, but this failure was meant to treat me poorly.  They were just overly busy (**What recession??? expensive shoes were being sold left and right!).

In the end, my kid got the footwear she desired, and our life was not harmed by the extra time inside the department store.  Nobody intended to make us wait so long, and everyone extended an apology once we made contact.

John Moore wrote about this in a 2007 blog post.  His point in the article holds true today: "We are setting ourselves up for disappointment by expecting businesses to flawlessly deliver every single time".  He goes on to talk about a major problem that JetBlue faced when a series of cancelled flights and thousands of stranded customers triggered a major backlash.  JetBlue recovered, but was it realistic for customers to expect perfection? (Read John's post... it is insightful).

I talked to a person recently who said she holds grudges in such situations and wants to see the offending party suffer when they let her down.  She pulls business and tells the world when someone sucks.  The more she talked, the more I realized that we run into mishaps all the time, and she must spend a lot of time wishing ill-will.  I wondered if she had kids and if she had the same policy when they disappointed her in some way?  

We live in crazy busy times, and sometimes people drop the ball (I have failed people, but I do things to try to remedy the situation, say I am sorry, and then I cannot worry about their stink-eye if they send it my way).  If we understand that not all problems are intentional and take a deep breath we can continue to build long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.  If I had stormed out of Nordstroms and vowed not to return, I would never again have the best Oxford button-down shirts on the market (I am very fond of their shirts).

How about you?  What do you think?

thom singer


Thom Singer said...

This topic was spurred from a conversation in a workshop that I hosted.... and I will rethink my "Twitter Venting" in the future, as it is not consistent with my own soul.

Anonymous said...

We can never know what is going on for the other people we interact with in business or our personal lives. People jump to conclusions and construct rock-csolid opinions without knowing or caring about much beyond their nose. Your "Rethinking Twitter Venting" is a start, but you should do more.