Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rewarding the Jerks

It is frustrating how often jerks get rewarded.

The old line about the squeaky wheel getting the grease is true (although a reader once reminded me that squeaky wheels sometimes get replaced).

Those of us who are steeped in manners may well wonder if we would get better treatment if we were more difficult. We sense that in many cases, the person who is courteous is easily ignored while jerkish behavior is served and inadvertently rewarded.

The general rule, of course, should be that poor behavior will result in undesirable consequences, not better ones. When the other side is rude, the counter-offer should get worse, not better.

The appeasement of jerks is often justified as an expeditious way of getting the person to go away. I won't say that is always wrong but it is almost always wrong. When the jerk strolls off with a win, we've just reinforced a pattern of negative behavior that will be carried on to someone else.

There is a less extreme scenario where no jerk is present and yet the patience of the polite is taken for granted. That's where the level of service is lowered because it is quietly known that it can be done. The victim risks mistaking meekness for patience and cowardice for courtesy. It is not out of order to say, "I deserve better treatment than this."

And when a polite customer says that, organizations should listen.

1 comment:

Rob said...

I've always been amazed that if somebody is angry, aggressive or rude, and generally unrealistic they generally get a lot more than if you are respectful, considerate and patient.

You might feel you deserve better treatment, but you are not angry and aggressive.

A customer once told me when questioned as to what his complaint actually was, he finally ended up saying 'if I don't complain loudly I don't get a discount and I always get a discount.'

Another one time customer, who was a lawyer took great pride in never paying a contractor for any service, his aggressive attitude was sue me I don't care you won't win, he hung up the phone(he never did pay, but what can you do for a few hundred bucks)

I just think it's so much easier to be nice, but the reality is that doesn't usually get you anywhere.

Oh well I will still choose to be nice, I guess in the business world that makes me a loser. :-)