Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Today's fortune: February 23, 2011

Today's fortune: Trust others, but still keep your eyes open.

This is a takeoff on that old phrase made popular by Ronald Reagan: Trust, but verify.

I've always hated that phrase.

Because I think it's an oxymoron. If you trust someone - truly trust someone - there's no need to verify. And conversely, if you need to verify something, then you don't really trust the person it's coming from.

And that's okay. It's fine to not trust someone. But it's not okay, in my opinion, to tell someone you trust them only to verify everything they tell you. That makes you untrustworthy, not them. The honest person would say, "I don't trust you 100 percent, so I am going to verify what you've told me with a source I do trust. Mmmmmmkay?"

Another thing that's interesting about today's fortune: this is the first one I've received during this project with a bit of an ominous overtone. Anytime you hear "Keep your eyes open," you instantly think something bad is gonna happen.

Today at work, I learned a lot more about the dark side of widget making. Makes me want to keep my eyes open for future widget run-ins.

See, widget customers are not always happy with their widgets. Sometimes, they're downright pissed off about the whole process. And they'll let you know. I've heard horror stories from other widget makers, and I've had a few minor disputes in the past, but today I had my first major, all-out widget argument with a customer over the phone. Usually, the widget resolution phone calls take about 10 minutes. I was on the phone with this guy for over an hour. He did not understand the widget process despite my numerous attempts to explain, and he did not agree at all with the value of his widget. Although we came to a tentative understanding by the end of the call, I'm positive I'll have to deal with this gentleman again.

Here's the worst part: the guy didn't speak a word of English, so the entire conversation took place through an interpreter. I felt truly awful for her.

Fortunately, I was able to keep my cool, and I've always been very good about leaving work at the office (although writing about it now in the comfort of my home is therapeutic). I think a lot of widget makers burn out because they bring their problems and their angry customers home with them.

This takes me full-circle back to the fortune: "Trust others, but still keep your eyes open." Widget makers don't have the luxury of trusting our customers. We have to verify what they tell us. And I admit, I've been guilty in the past of telling customers, "Not that I don't trust you, but let me double-check that." Well, the fact is, I don't trust them. I can't trust them. And I shouldn't lie about it.

In the future, I'm going to say, "I have to verify that information. I'm sure you understand."

In the long run, I think my customers will trust me more and be more confident in their widgets.

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