File Under “What Not To Do, Lesson #1”
I emailed a company with a question about their product.
I didn’t receive a response.
I emailed a second time, in case the first email opted for a Sunday stroll instead of delivery.
Still no response.
I tried to contact them on Facebook.
They posted a reply saying someone would be in contact—then my comment and their reply were deleted, and I was blocked from commenting on their Facebook page.
I tried to contact them on Twitter.
I went back to their Twitter page. They had blocked me.
I have a valid question as well as documentation that led me to be concerned.
I’m not calling them names or trolling or anything of the like. I’m simply trying to obtain answers to questions about one of their products.
Their response? Delete, block, avoid.
If you make a mistake or are in error, or someone questions you or your product, don’t hide.
The greatest relationships are forged in the fire of errors/mistakes/misunderstandings and so on.
When Bob was a young salesman at the Albany Times-Union, desperately trying to increase advertising, and decrease ad dollars going to the rival paper, Bob managed to convince the head of a large supermarket that was opening in the area to take out a full page ad in the Sunday edition, for the weekend the store was opening.
On the day the ad was supposed to run, Bob opened his own paper with glee, looking forward to seeing the ad himself.
It wasn’t there.
Bob rushed down to the paper’s office and pulled out the order for the ad, only to find that the ad was scheduled for the next Sunday—and that the handwriting for that order was his own. He’d messed up the date for the opening of a major supermarket and messed up his paper’s opportunity to dominate the ad dollars made available by the supermarket.
Bob could have started looking for a new job that moment, but instead he raced to the home of the head of the supermarket. The gentleman was just returning from church and had not yet seen the paper. Bob told him what had happened and then shared a plan for how his paper would run an advertising campaign, what it would look like, the number of pages, and dates, and so on, at no cost to the supermarket.
Bob kept his job and later became publisher of that paper. However, on that particular day, Bob received a thank you from the head of the supermarket, for acting like a partner and showing that he cared about doing the right thing and taking care of customers.
Bob ran toward instead of away from the problem, and in return saved his career and helped his paper turn a corner. Not too many years later, his paper had taken so many ad dollars from its rival that the rival shut down.
Failing to return e-mails and blocking individuals on Facebook and Twitter isn’t an answer. It’s a delay tactic. At some point we all have to face errors/mistakes/misunderstandings/etc. Better to run toward them than to let them fester. The toxic cleanup that comes with festering isn’t worth it.
Side note: This practice applies to your work with an editor or critic, or anyone else in your industry of choice. Your editor sees a problem with your manuscript and suggests cuts? You can hide and fight all the way or you can face the problems and work with the editor to sort them out. The critic? You don’t have to address them or even listen to them, but . . . The good ones (I’m not talking the Amazon reviewer still living in his parent’s basement), the ones who know the industry, often have insights worth paying attention to, even if they sting. Learn from them.
The faster—and sooner—you run toward the problem, the faster—and sooner—it will be behind you.