Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Are We Being Taught To Avoid Anything Unhappy?

In today's world where everything is about marketing (not necessarily telling the truth) there is a theory among the hucksters that all negative comments, criticism, and probing questions, should be avoided at all costs. They feel comfortable taking this tact, and referring to anyone who isn't in the "happy" box, as a "troll."

I'm therefore, a troll. I ask questions, I point out lies, puffery, and other marketing tactics that are nothing more than an attempt to make money the dishonest way.

I'm a problem. I literally, just won't just let things lie.

Well, here's another truth, avoiding the truth, avoiding answering questions that may knock a few points off your perceived "personal brand," just makes things worse.

Recently I was looking to book a hotel. I went to Trip Advisor. I love this site. I read the reviews. There's a couple things I look for. One, the number of positive reviews. I really don't care what they say after the first few, but the number is important.

Then I look at the negative reviews. I read more of those. I notice that mostly, the negative reviews come from people who ask for special accommodations. "We had a party of 35 and didn't all get to stay on the same floor like you said maybe, possibly, could happen." "We got in at 2 a.m. and there weren't 9 people at the desk to help up." Most negative reviews appear to be from people who will never be happy. Some, though, are relevant - the ones about noise, cleanliness, food quality, to name a few.

Finally, I look to see if anyone at the hotel responds to the reviews. If they do, they move up a notch with me.

But last week I noticed something interesting. I saw one hotel where the responses were only to the positive reviews. "Oh, thank you so much, we're so glad you love our wonderful hotel......." Every negative review was left without a response.

I won't stay there regardless of the positive reviews. I know a marketing huckster advised this hotel to only respond to positive comments, and ignore the "trolls."

So this troll won't be staying there.

This behavior is growing on the internet. Lies and deceit don't work well with questions and criticism, so it's ignored.

The next time you're online, watch how people ignore anything that makes them unhappy. Ask questions, and watch who responds, and who cowers.

There's a ton of posts on the internet about responding to negativity. Whatever they say, there is no substitute for taking criticism and questions head on.

It's what real lawyers do.

Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Sam Glover said...

I agree, but trolls do exist, and I don't think they deserve a response.

The difference between criticism and trolling is that the critic is constructive, and justifies his or her negative comment by giving a reason. It doesn't take much to make a valid complaint, but it does take some substance.

A troll just says something along the lines of "you suck," often just to get a reaction.

Additionally, if you ask a critic to elaborate, they usually will, while trolls continue to lash out.

Critics should be answered, but, as the saying goes, don't feed the trolls.

shg said...

Brian: Why is Sam Glover stalking you? I mean, how weird is that, GSame is suddenly everywhere you are, watching you, commenting to you, following you. It's creepy.

Sam: You suck. I can give reasons. But you don't suck as bad as Aaron Street. I can give reasons for that too. Also, my constructive advice is to stop sucking. You're welcome.

Sam Glover said...

I'm stalking Brian because I think he writes some great blog posts. I read your blog, too, Scott, if you want to know. I just don't comment because I don't think I'm cut out for your brand of witty repartee.

But I'd love to hear the reasons why I suck, whether on your blog, in an email, or in these comments. Or a phone call, if you have time.

Andreas said...

I knew I was going to have a problem with the "shiny happy people" of this world (thank you REM) years ago when I worked at a bank's call centre and we had this Always Be Positive mantra shoved down our throats. It was very much like Alec Baldwin's insistence that you should Always Be Closing in Glengarry Glenn Ross minus the swearing and the brass balls.

I knew my days at the call centre were numbered when I told my manager that "we had a problem" and he stopped me mid-sentence to remind me that "we had an opportunity" instead.

I still haven't worked up the nerve to tell clients of mine who've been charged with possessing child porn that they're looking at things all wrong and that they really don't have a problem but rather they have an opportunity.

shg said...

You are very demanding, Sam. It's not an attractive quality in a man. And you've hurt my feelings by not commenting on my blawg. That's the second time you've hurt my feelings. I feel very sad, Sam. Hurt and sad. Are you happy now?

Jordan said...

Your article reminds about a time when I wrote a negative online review about a local pizza shop. The pizza shop actually responded along the lines of "Hey, we know there were problems, but we've fixed them, and we're under new management. If we give you a free pizza, would you be willing to re-evaluate your review?"

So I took them up on the offer. (well, I bought a second pie there and didn't tell them it was me.) This time around the pizza was fantastic, actually one of the best and most unique pies around. I re-wrote my review accordingly.

Had the pizza shop just ignored the "trolls", they would still be serving bad pizza, wondering why no one goes there...