Back in September 2009 I wrote a post titled Be Sure You Know Your Audience Before You State Your Case. In that post, I talked about a guy that some people know quite well who went on kind of a wrong turn when commenting on something he should have known better about, then decided to write about it on his blog, seemingly with the thought that his readers would immediately take his side. Of course it didn’t happen because he’d forgotten an old adage; make yourself look like you’re superior to others in some fashion and they won’t like it.


by Jon Collier via Flickr

Round two comes with this brilliant post by a guy named Adam Justice on his eponymous named blog (kind of ironic based on the post) titled Viral Virus: Ocean Marketing Is Sunk. This is the tale of not one, but two people who seemed to have it all going on, ready to break through to big riches, only to sabotage themselves and their businesses because they had an inflated sense of self and deflated sense of fairness and common sense to others.

I hope you go read the article, but I’ll give you the quick down and dirty. On the first a guy wrote the company about something he didn’t receive to ask when it would show up and the owner of the company went off on him in an email, basically telling him he was nothing and that he was too important and knew too many other important people for this guy to be bothering him.

The guy goes to a tech reporter who does a follow up, the guy responds in kind and believes he’s in the right on how he responded, and all heck breaks loose, the company tumbles, and instead of acts of contrition he continues inserting foot in mouth.

On the second, a woman happens across a website that she realizes has been stealing her content, recipes. She contacts the woman to point it out, and says that she’s not upset but believes a donation to a college program would be a nice thing to do. The woman instead chews her out for bad writing, says everything on the internet is open for everyone to take as theirs, and says the woman should pay her for editing the content and making her recipes look better.

Of course that gets out, journalists and the like go after her, and her business folds within 2 weeks. Even with that she takes to the web and issues a condescending apology, opening herself up to more derision as well.

UCLA Bruins Women's Gymnastics - 1888
Creative Commons License Parker Knight
via Compfight

Both of these instances prove that sometimes people get a false sense of how important they are. Just because you’ve finally made it, or are on the verge of making it, doesn’t mean you get the right to treat others badly, especially in today’s world of social media, where anything can go viral in an instant if the right person puts the word out. The first guy actually knew he was in trouble when he wrote to the tech writer and asked him to stop the flood, which of course was impossible once the word got out.

I’m a small guy when it comes to business and social media, yet last April I got my bit of mess on when I had a major league affiliate complaint against Finish Line, who basically decided not to pay me a commission then closed my account for low sales on the same day. I posted the email here, the guy threatened me, I dared him to do something about it, and got it to Twitter where it not only got retweeted often, but a different representative of Finish Line contacted me.

Of course it never got resolved because I’m not a big enough guy to warrant any courtesy, but if I’d touched a real nerve with more people who knows right? I thought about taking it to the media but decided it wasn’t worth it; maybe I was wrong, but that one’s on me.

Here’s the thing. All of us have the right to rant. We also have the right to have a bad customer service experience, even if someone else is the customer. What we don’t get to do is put someone else down while building ourselves up, especially when we’re in the wrong.

That these two people couldn’t see that they were wrong smacks of elitism, and sends the wrong message about perception, which I wrote about last week. I write often that I want to be big, but not so I can try to bully others when I’m wrong, or potentially wrong. That’s the wrong reason to want anything; doesn’t anyone remember the lessons of Lord of the Rings?

If you want to ruin your career and any chance of making real money in life, learn the wrong lessons from people like this. I hope you learn the right lesson and condemn folks like this instead.
 

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