Monday, May 11, 2009

Lack of Negativity

I've been chewing on this for a few weeks.

At the HTG Summit in Dallas, a couple of people commented from the stage that one of the defining characteristics of HTG is a lack of negativity among the members.

And what exactly does that mean?

One of the speakers clarified:

When some people call because they have a problem, they immediately go negative. They yell, threaten, and make asses of themselves.

Other people avoid the negative. They take the approach that "problems happen" and work to improve the product.

HTG members are not unique in this regard. After all, they were like this before they joined HTG. What's different is that HTG as a group reflects a positive approach to problems.

Your experience with your clients will give you a good idea of the two types of behavior. Let's say you have a client who clicks on every virus-infected pop up that appears in front of him. In short order, his machine is totally infected. You see ten or more hours of labor in front of you and recommend that it's faster to re-image the machine than try to fix it.

If the client is a "negative" type, he'll get pissed off, blame it on you, and fill your ear with a half hour of "It's all your fault" B.S.

If the client is a "positive" type, he may not take responsibility for what happened, but at least he won't dump all over you. Instead, he'll talk honestly about what happened and focus on a plan to move forward.

I'm sure your mother told you that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Business relationships are no different than personal relationships. They have ups and downs. Some days everything is great. Some days not so great. But if both parties are interested in continuing the work on it, the relationship will survive whatever comes up.

The key is to focus on being constructive. Just because there's a problem, and a complaint, doesn't mean that either party has to be negative about it.

- - - - -

Anyone can have a bad day, a bad interaction, or a bad customer service experience. Stuff happens.

You don't have to be perfect and your clients don't have to be perfect. But having a general tendency toward the positive instead of the negative goes a long ways. And working with people who have the same tendency can make a huge difference.

It makes a difference when people assume that each member of the team is competent and focus on the business questions at hand. Positive attitudes also build trust and reciprocal positive attitudes.

Maybe I'm a whack-job, but I would much rather work with people who take a positive approach to business!


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