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Business and Life Lessons: Apology and Gratitude Over The Dangers of Entitlement

There are powerful lessons to learn in Business and Life in regards to the psychology of Apology, gratitude and dangers of entitlement.

There are many examples, but recently you saw Netflix lose over a million customers because they thought they were entitled to them. They nearly doubled their price overnight which is usually suicide for any business. They actually thought all their customers would loyally join a split off company in addition to Netflix. To top it off, they didnt apologize correctly when they upset customers. People left in droves. In business you learn learn not be entitled and if you cant apologize you’ll lose people, the same is true in Life.

Online, I’ve been cleaning up some people in my Facebook group and have long ago learned in life to actively separate from people I dont want associated with myself. After a while, it becomes a skill set to avoid “problem people” and deal with their behavior after removal. They feel I’m entitled to them. I’ve overseen boatloads of employees over my life and after a while you become a psychologist. It forces you to be a judge and you have to look inward as these people reflect upon you. You try to understand human nature so you can be a good and fair judge.

When I was a child if we did something wrong or offended someone my parents didnt get on the phone and start blaming someone else, like the Church, school or neighbors, trying to “spin” it. NOPE. They would make us pick up the phone or walk over and personally apologize. It was hell. But we learned something, ‘Dont be an asshole or you’ll pay for it.’ In life you learn that karma sometimes takes the long way round to come home. Treating people poorly in society will catch up to you.

Someone asked me today how to resolve an online argument. I said look the person feels offended, quit arguing and JUST APOLOGIZE. It amazes me that many people struggle with something so simple, so basic, yet powerful. I’m a good person who operates by the Golden Rule. I dont like to go around offending people on purpose and if you approach me and say I offended you, I’ll apologize even if I felt I did no wrong. If you’re an enemy of mine or I intended to offend you, that is of course a different story.

In business you have to apologize, the customer is right. The customers wants his pain to be recognized. As the CEO, the worst of the worst customer service calls comes to your desk to personally handle. Its people who are very angry at your company and want to talk to the boss. I’d start my intro to the call with an apology and an offer to help. Many times it would stop them in their tracks. They’d say “You’re the first person who has apologized to me.” You try to teach employees this, but they get caught in the net of debate and sometimes they have these issues about saying it from the psychology I’ll discuss here.

Sometimes as I LISTENED to a client vent their bad experience, I would have to keep saying “I’m sorry about that” until their anger dissipated and they felt like their issues had been heard. By then I’d have a plan of action to present to them to fix their problem and I’d personally oversee the finishing of their business for them. I’d always close with an apology and “we appreciate your business.” See the attitude of gratitude there?

The results were awesome. Time and time again, those customers could come back to us for business. They would always tell me of how great their experience was and how much they appreciated us. I would sit there and think back on that ugly phone call or office visit and realize we’d repaired an experience they didnt reflect on or remember and we KEPT a client by apologizing.

I think things have changed immensely in our societies behavior. We feel too entitled. Maybe its a generational or behavior thing where too many parents dont seem to hold kids accountable these days.

Now you cant please everyone and many times certain people cant please themselves and you can never please them with that disconnect, no matter how much you apologize.

What prompted this discussion is I removed members of my group that were offensive to others. It also happens when I remove people from my personal life or fire people in business. More and more people these days it seems to me, that instead of saying sorry, they just start attacking you. Smart stable people usually wander off and go about their business. I’ve learned this a lot in business, you get enough employees over time and you’ll see it all. I’ve had ex-employees who’ve done everything from keying or damaging my car, following me home, stalking my house in a private secluded neighborhood, to death threats on the voice mail and in the mail. The interesting thing is in all these cases the employee was usually fired for bad social behaviors in the company that also showed in their performance.

Entitlement or Privilege. Entitlement behavior seems to be the thing that keeps people from being able to apologize. The psychology that disturbs me the most is the poor unsocial behavior these people did to get them removed from my business, life or groups, is the same poor abusive behavior they exhibit attacking you after being removed. They dont change and they actually validate why that person should be removed. After an event like that, I’d reflect on what I did, apologize and try to change. The good people I usually find act in a way of apologizing and offer reconciliation at least so their arent hard feelings. The people with dysfunctional behaviors seem to have a psychology of Entitlement and they act out at you for rejecting them because they feel they have ownership of you. Its the same style of entitlement that you find inherit in criminal behavior that the world owes them something. Whats even more amazing to me is that they actually EXPECT that exhibiting more of the same bad behavior that you’ll relent and bring them back into your interests. To me that’s psychotic.

In business and in relationships this is a lesson we learn the hard way. Luckily I learned much of it in business as a young CEO. We learned very quickly you never hire back people you fired. EVER. The same is true in personal relationships and many can speak to this experience I’m sure. The same with online communities. In my life, hanging out with me isnt an entitlement, its a privilege that can be revoked. I dont mean that to sound egotistical but we all feel that way about our lifes and the people we keep around us. Whats interesting is I find people with good social behaviors understand its a privilege to associate with people and you should treat them well. On the other hand it seems the entitlement folks dont owe anyone anything, they are entitled to anything and everything they want of that person. In the end, they evidently feel they can abuse anyone at will, even after being expulsed.

My business and online communities represent ME. If one finds themselves booted its because I find you or your behavior offensive and I dont want myself associated with you. Thats my right. All my life, mostly in business we’ve tried all sorts of things to try to identify these folks ahead of time. Multiple interviews, personality tests etc. I try to keep the entitlement abusers out of my personal life too but in business you cant fire people so easily once you hire them. This is why interviewing people ahead of time is so important. I have learned over life to watch out for these folks and avoid them when I can. Its one of those business/life hazards few people tell you about and you learn the hard way.

In the end realize the people in your life, business or online communities are a privilege to associate with. Its amazing the difference of how people treat each other from this context. In many successful long term marriages and business partnerships you see there are still points of respect, gratitude and admiration present. This is why many successful people operate with a sense of gratitude about what they have. Once you start treating people like an entitlement, you can cross into abuse if you’re displeased and will exhibit anti-social, sometimes psychotic behaviors. No one owns anyone on the planet, whether connected by blood, business or marriage partnerships, YOU dont own anyone. If you think you do, you’ll behave differently towards them.

If you’re wrong apologize, it takes a bigger more self-actualized successful person to do that. Dont get angry, look inside and see what is causing the behaviors that are making people reject you. Maybe you feel you’re not at fault, but if you reflect on it, learn something from it. If you own a business, find out if your employees know how to apologize and rectify customers concerns.

Remember your customers are a privilege, you’ll likely lose them once you think you’re entitled to their business. Netflix learned this the hard way.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates