That got me as well.
Right before why can large bonuses make CEOs less productive?
Good questions both, why?
As a strategist, I'm paid to ask why a lot. And like Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics, I ground that question into research data and observation of reality. You got it, this is a book review. Instead of covering the whole book, as I usually do, I will take one slice of this book and apply it to social media.
Are you with me?
The book is The Upside of Irrationality (Amazon affiliate link), which I purchased in my recent trip to Borders together along with Rework. I go to bookstores to take in the universe of what's being written, see the titles, the covers, and gain a sense of the overall direction of... well, for the section where I picked this up, it's the marketing of business.
All of the recent stuff is about marketing. It becomes content-driven with time, if you're lucky and your work has enduring qualities.
Back to revenge, a dish best served cold and a Conversation Agent trivia -- my doctoral dissertation was the translation of Richard Brautigan's The Revenge of the Lawn into Italian (a professor's assignment).
What makes us seek justice?
Betrayal or the perception of being betrayed. As Ariely writes, people are generally willing to put their faith in others, even in people they don't know and will never meet. We get upset when the social contract of trust is violated.
The human levers run as deep as our survival instincts -- punishing betrayal is rooted in our biology, even when it costs us something. Revenge and trust are in fact two sides of the same coin.
This is why we talk so much about accountability in business. Think about how you felt when the economy collapsed, when the bailouts were announced, when companies merge to save a buck and employees get caught in the restructurings, etc.
Confess, you have also thought about rotten tomatoes thrown at poor performers when you took a look at your 401k plans, what's left of them.
Having the last laugh
At whose expense?
We see countless examples of revenge for poor customer experiences through blog posts, comments on review sites -- just look at travel sites -- and tweets. If Twitter weren't the network of first recourse, we would probably not see so many companies make their way with customer service accounts there.
Here's the thing, we often take it out on the wrong party. Yes, you do too.
You're at the hairdresser and get a terrible hair color experience. The color specialist makes a mistake on the bill, do you tell the front desk, or do you pay less, thus shorting the salon? I'll leave you to thinking about the tip. Tricky question, isn't it?
Car troubles, spotty mobile phone reception, shoddy big box store service, poor hotel experiences, and the most loved of all -- air travel.
I bet you're all excited about the next flight anywhere already. Or maybe you're thinking about a tax to exact airlines for every unnecessarily unhelpful interaction or lack thereof. The airline may get its song and dance from you. In the meantime, it's probably the steward who takes the brunt of your dissatisfaction.
Do you retaliate against the principal, or just the agent? Ariely's research says we don't distinguish between the two. Which is bad news for companies that are not serious about customer support and service in an environment increasingly charged with annoyance, frustration, and revenge.
There is one thing that takes the sting off revenge -- it's called a sincere apology.
You probably know of former colleagues who left your company or were laid off and went on to start what became a main competitor to that business. I have many examples from insurance brokerage and services, pharmaceutical, and orthodontia.
What about social media? Yup, there too.
The best way to use your power of creator and publisher is to put it at the service of your natural gifts. Say you're taking issue with what someone else is doing -- why not focus on a way to enrich the space with your own content and personality? You make us all the better when you choose to do that.
This is a trick I started early on in school. Whenever a teacher thought I was a bit too outspoken and didn't follow the expected path -- I know, a shock to many -- I would dig deeper and demonstrate there was another way to learning the subject matter.
Go on, teach us a lesson. Don't get mad, get us with your smarts.
Bottom line, this book is filled with practical examples of every day experiences and behaviors. It even tells you how to edge your bets with the "not-invented-here" bias. And I know you're going to use that at work.
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