Well Now You’ve Done It

January 31, 2013

Way to go.  You broke it.  You didn’t follow the directions.  I told you that would happen.

How are you feeling now, my customer?  My co-worker?  My son?  My husband?  Not so great, huh?  So now you feel bad AND it’s still broken.  And I’m sure you thought it was my fault already and now I’ve insulted you on top of it.

Read one of my all time favorite business guru’s blog today (Seth Godin) and it was a thought provoker.  There will always be those that don’t listen, that don’t heed the warnings, that skip over the instructions.  What do we do with them?  They’re going to blame someone for it not working (probably us).  It’s easy to point out that it’s their fault, to blame them.  But does it fix it?  Will it keep them from doing it again?

As a business we’d like to weed these customers out.  But perhaps what we should do is embrace them.  Educate them, yes, but realize that it comes with the territory.  Perfect clients don’t exist.  Real clients do.  Our job is to create the product they want, try and teach them how to best utilize it and be there when they break it.  We’re not here to just pass on a software program, we’re here to help make them better.   Lofty goal, I realize that.  But why not try?

On a personal note, I’m going to try and remember this with my boys.  If I had a dollar for every time I said “I told you that would happen.  If you’d just listen.”  You know, it never makes them listen any more intently the next time.  It only makes them feel crappy and that’s not helping anyone.  There’s going to be a fine dance with words here I know it, but my goal is to figure out a different way to remind my 7 year old that, as explained 1 googlezillion times before, if you try to drink out of the cup backward you will in fact spill milk all over the table.  Well…see…there I did it again.  Maybe instead I should try to figure out a way to drink out of the cup backward without spilling the milk!  Why not?

Assigning blame is really about personal vindication, not about fixing anything.  If you need to defend yourself, by all means do.  You don’t need to take a beating just for the sake of being ‘helpful’.  But if your goal is to help, blame can’t be a part of the picture.