I’ll probably consider renaming my blog ‘Something stupid I observed today’ as generally that is what inspires me and I feel as though I’ll have a magic-puddings worth of content.
Within the sphere of my working life, I talk to people when they’ve got a problem. I know times are good for my clients when I haven’t got a phone call in a week.
I read once (somewhere probably not scholarly) that people are six times as likely to tell you about something bad than about something good. Maybe it’s off the back end of being taught not to brag as a child. Maybe we are complaining to build rapport. I definitely make faster friendships over a ‘common enemy’ than a ‘common friend’.
We’re all surrounded by terrible drivers, in terrible weather, with neighbours that decided to mow the lawn at the crack of an inconvenient time. It’s a wonder we know how to smile at all!
Whatever the psychological reasoning, in all the roles I’ve practiced, in all industries I’ve endured, people will only call me when they’ve got a problem. You may notice at this point that I didn’t specifically say ‘with a problem they want me to fix’.
That’s because they don’t necessarily want it fixed.
They sortof… Just… Want a friend.
I think it would a sound investment to have an automated response on my phone.
“You’ve reached Amy’s phone and I’m delighted to take your complaint today. Listen to the following selections carefully:
Press one if you would like a solution.
Press two if you need to vent.
Press three if its three thirty and you’ve wasted your day and you want to put off acknowledging it.”
I’m totally fine with it – though I wish we could call it what it was. How many times have you heard the phrase: ‘It’s just business’. That’s what people say when they want to be judged for their logic only and not the potentially emotionally deplorable, shady AF thing they’ve just had a part in. It’s just business. The unfortunate thing about business logic is that it comes out of the mouths of humans. The most illogical of creatures. So I take the ‘It’s just business’ with a grain of salt – because no one in business does business with purely business methods. Yep. I’m calling you all liars.
Allow me to give you an example. I had a client call me this year complaining to me about the quality of leads I provided him.
“The leads aren’t good. They’re all tyre kickers”
TYRE KICKERS: this phrase stems from potential car buyers who kick the tyres to determine the working functionality of the car, but never end up buying.
When people say this to me, they mean: “they are time wasters”. What I see, much like literal tyre kickers of yore, is that: you have a potential customer in front of you – who definitely wants to buy a car – but for some reason or another, your car is not up to scratch, OR, your sales skills are not up to scratch.
But is it just business if I say to them, “yeah I know when I’ve got some time to waste I go prank business owners. I definitely wouldn’t rather be watching Netflix and eating chicken wings – no I get my jollies kicking tyres.”
Just business though.
I later found out this particular client getting the tyre-kickers hadn’t called any of the leads, hadn’t even so much as looked at them. However he had just had his business development skills scornfully discredited by a colleague and it HURT HIS FEELIGS. Imagine that. Someone in business – a human wearing a business suit, hurt? Time to dial three and talk about how it’s already three thirty and you’ve wasted your day, your month, or even your year – aaaaand queue to break into song: I’ll be there for youuuuu!
The truth is, behind every venting monologue there is always something going on in the background that I don’t know about. Maybe a big deal just fell through, maybe they’ve found out the only have three years to live, maybe their kid just came home with a grade five algebraic homework question they couldn’t answer and now they are questioning their intelligence. I don’t know. Whatever the real problem is – I’m not going to find out. I’ll just hear about the cherry on top of the mountain of nonsense they’ve put up with that week.
And what the heck? – it’s just a cherry. Let’s chat it out.
Nine times out of ten by the time we get off the phone the weight is off their shoulders and quantifiably, nothing has changed. They just needed to vent
As some clever lady in my office says: “A problem shared is a problem halved”.
It’s me. The clever lady in my office is me.