Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Accountability: Cheat! Fraud! Scam! Liar!

As I have mentioned here before, I've been volunteering at the answer board of an internet company.  (I will elect not to say which but, doubtless, you might correctly make an educated guess.)  It has the potential to be a good thing.  A very good thing.  I can share the benefit of my experience, help some folks who need it, and learn from others who know more than I.  That's Wins, right?  Lots of Wins.  Well, it should be.  But it's kinda downright depressing a lot of the time.

Whenever I go to the board, I see thread after thread with the same four words:  Cheat! Fraud! Scam! Liar!  And I sigh because I know what is coming:  the poster has been cruelly and grievously wronged by an uncaring individual whose only aim in life is to make the poster suffer loss.

Yeah.  Right.  Sure. 
Whatever you say. 
I get tired, and I wanna fire back but I suck it up and play nice and try my best to be understanding.

Here's the fact of the matter:  about 70% of the time, the issue is simply that Someone (usually the person who has posted about the problem) has not bothered to adequately acquaint him/herself with the rules.  If he/she had done so, there would be no trouble whatsoever. 

About 20% of the time, the difficulty is a matter of unavoidable (usually human) error:  there was a delay because someone's kid got sick or the car had a flat tire or there was a miscalculation in postage because the scale was off or a shipment got mixed up.  People try to do too much in one day, and they are so distracted by everything else that they just don't concentrate mindfully on the things they are doing.  Stuff happens.

The other 10% is actually a very intentional issue that is caused by a set of international sellers from a certain country that I will choose not to name.  But let me say this: you wanna get something Cheap; cheap is what you are gonna get and that includes Cheating and shabby treatment, if you get my drift.  Seriously, folks:  buy USA.  We need the sales!

But I digress.....when all of the nasty name-calling and mudslinging is done and the complaint has been adequately addressed, almost no one ever says sorry or admits error.  They rarely even thank the people who have taken their own time to assist.

Recently, I made an incorrect diagnosis of a problem and gave poor advice.  Another volunteer pulled me up short, told me none-too-patiently which direction I should be perching in, and corrected my blunder.  So I answered:  I thanked him for making the matter right, and I apologized nicely.

Apologized.  Unusual?  I don't think so.  But I guess that other volunteer was surprised because he marked my apology post with a "helpful."  I can scarcely imagine that an admission of guilt and an expression of remorse deserved that sort of recognition.

My thinking:  if you screw up, be an adult--admit it, own it, say sorry and mean it, try never to do it again.

It's not that hard.  Human beings are fallible.  Sometimes they have bad days; they don't bother to read the rules; they try to get something for nothing.  The place where people seem to be failing just now is in taking accountability.  Perhaps if we took more accountability for our actions, others wouldn't always be jumping to conclusions and screaming that there's a fox in the chicken coop when, really, it's just a little mouse looking for some spare grain.

Are folks out to get you?  Probably not.  They are probably every bit as needy and as worried and as scared as you are.  We shouldn't mistake their intentions as evil, unless we are prepared to measure our own on the very same scale.

Be more gentle than you need to be.
Listen whenever you can. 
Apologize because you should.

Life is short.
It is up to each of us to make it good.

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