Saturday, September 10, 2011

Say Something Before You Do Something

In this point in history we are a very vocal people. That is, on social media and to our friends. We're vocal in all the easiest of situations.

But if there's something or someone we don't like; if there's something we don't care for, we quietly, secretly back away. We back away from friends, family, church, restaurants, websites...without a word to those involved.

Last year we had what I thought was a raw deal in terms of a cut-and-dried auto insurance claim. It had been bugging me. I was thinking about leaving our long-time agent. So I went to his office and politely, respectfully talked to him about it like a human. I told him my thoughts and why I was entertaining leaving.

We tried to help each other better understand each other. I talked with him like a man, not an agent. And he talked with me like man, not a customer. I'm probably more likely to stay with him after that. But I'm not 100%. If I do leave his agency, he will know why.

The other day I renewed one of my website domain names. The website was horrible. It was like a visual representation of an army of Billy Maze's yelling at me. I emailed the company. I respectfully told them I didn't appreciate their strategy and that they could do better; that their web strategy will make me reconsider using them in the future.

Those examples were pretty benign: insurance and a website. But what about the local restaurant that goes out of business because no one tells the manager/owner what the product or service was like?

What about the spouse that you stop communicating with because you don't have the nerve to engage them about______________?

What about the friend that's just easier to stop contacting because of ________________?

We think negatively: believing that our words will not result in any change, and so we keep quiet. But in reality our words might initiate change or understanding.

Then of course, if we withhold our words, it's a 100% certainty that things will continue on like they always have.

We're talking about integrity. Believing the best in someone or an organization. Believing that someone might be open to our words. Believing that the other party does not want to let us down or worse.

Holding back our words will certainly add no value to that person or organization.

Holding back our words will simply fester and annoy us while the other party goes blindly and obliviously on their (sometimes errant) way.

In the Bible there is this concept that we all belong to each other. This wise truth makes it harder for me to keep from saying something to people or organizations. Even if that person or organization isn't Christian, isn't it better for everyone if I treat them this way?

The ways of complaining, whining, ranting to uninvolved parties is easy. Integrity--finding respectful ways to appropriately speak into people and organizations is more challenging. And it is the path that potentially makes both parties better. Integrity is doing the right thing even if the other party doesn't.

Not saying something because you don't think the other party will respond in kind, is dysfunction.

Our culture needs more integrity. Integrity rises and falls on all of my interactions and all of yours--from simple things like insurance to momentous things like marriages.

We all belong to each other.
Respectfully say something before doing something.
We can all get better; with each other's help.