Is it wrong to complain when you are on the receiving end of terrible service? I don’t think so. As a business owner and a writer, I want to know if something I’ve done isn’t right. And I know that this opens me up to unnecessarily harsh criticism as well, but I prefer to know what is being said or what people think about the work that I do. I am quite capable of separating the constructive from the ridiculous and I don’t need to be protected from understanding that the quality of what I’m doing may not be up to par. While I would love to hear great feedback about my work all of the time, I understand that there are days when I may not be able to give 100% no matter how hard I try. I’m human and I make mistakes. But 100% of the time, I am trying to do things right and to provide the highest quality work I am capable of providing.
With that said, there are some out there who feel it is in your best interests to shield you from criticism that you need to hear. There are some who feel that it is their duty to prevent you from hearing the whole story about the reality of your existence. And some are doing so under the guise of creating a more positive society. I submit to you that this sort of censorship is in no way nurturing and it smacks of condescension and that little pat-on-the-head mentality that restrains us from pressing into our best performance. We need some criticism in order to excel. It’s just a fact.
After all, the Bible says in Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” And in Proverbs 15:31-32, “The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” To plead the case of those so-called Karens who dare point out when something isn’t quite right, telling someone that they’ve undercooked your chicken or perhaps forgotten your side item hardly counts as a rebuke. Yet, there is such shame attached to simply asking for someone to correct a mistake these days. Unless you’re viciously attacking someone for making a mistake, there really is no harm in pointing out where something fails to hit the mark. In reality (not that insulated version that some people like to live in), a solid critique can serve as the springboard to achieving perfection.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable spending the money I work hard to earn at an establishment that doesn’t seek to make the customer happy. As a freelance writer who earns a living through writing and creating books for customers, how would I ever hope to improve on areas where I’m not quite wonderful if no one ever told me where I may be falling short? Granted, writing is a bit more subjective. But the fact remains, if I didn’t know how to take criticism, I would never survive as a writer.
Consumers have the right to expect a certain standard of service. They also have the right choose not to patronize your establishment if they feel that you aren’t equipped to or simply don’t care to provide a certain level of service. That’s why things like customer reviews are so necessary. An intelligent consumer can make it so much easier on other consumers by simply sharing their experience in a review on sites like Yelp or Google or with other like-minded individuals in special interest groups such as those found on Facebook. There are groups that exist where members can share their insights on local businesses and give tips on the best and worst places to go. Unfortunately, there are a few out there who only want members to share the positives and will take down any mention of a negative experience.
While I understand the sentiment and the whole flowery idea that “we can only say nice things in this space,” I believe it does a great disservice not only to the business, but to other potential customers. If all you’re allowed to say are the positives, you give the impression that the business never makes a mistake or that it has no room for improvement. You also imply that every customer will have the same experience and that there will never be a problem. That’s extremely unrealistic and really only serves to make the group feel warm and fuzzy while those who don’t live in LaLa Land are left scratching their heads when they have a less than satisfactory interaction with those businesses. In short, it sets up unrealistic expectations for the customer and puts undue pressure on the business.
For those who are trying to run a business, honest, thoughtful feedback is the most valuable thing they can get from a customer. And getting the whole truth is always the best possible scenario. Whether that be in terms of business matters or news in general. We’re grown-ups. We can take hearing the ugly truth. We should have the option of hearing it all and sorting through what makes sense to us so that we can make informed decisions about whatever it is that we need or want to do. I don’t remember asking anyone to shelter me from the cold, hard truth. And I don’t appreciate being treated as though I’m not intelligent enough to discern the difference between a legitimate complaint and an angry, baseless rant or an outright lie. If you are one of those people who is constantly trying to prevent others from hearing what’s true, rest assured that people don’t appreciate this. You may be popular for a minute, but when people examine the situation more closely and see that everything isn’t a rosy as it is being made out to be, you’ll look like the equivalent of the boy who cried wolf. There is nothing wrong with calling a spade a spade. Leaving out details is the same as lying. So, don’t be afraid to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Show respect for those who are listening to you by trusting them to hear the truth.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at email@example.com.
Sometimes, it’s just ugly.
It’s now or never. Mariana has some big decisions to make. As the world begins to crumble around her, will she stay shackled to an abusive boyfriend or will she finally break away and begin to realize her true potential?
Read the story of a woman trying reclaim her life in The End of Eternity by Rebecca Benston on Kindle Vella. Read it here!
My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.
If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com and http://www.ronashively.wordpress.com and http://www.highergroundforlife.wordpress.com and http://www.leadingthefollower.wordpress.com. And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com.