The truth!? You can’t handle the truth!
The problem with the truth itself, but that we find it hard to tell others the truth for fear of how they may react. Being so afraid of the other person’s reaction, we end up avoiding the conversation or sometimes even lying. It’s easier than facing an uncomfortable situation or upsetting someone we care about. In not telling the truth though, the long-term impact can be far worse.
In a previous role, I used to deal with customer complaints on a regular basis. More often than not, feedback I would hear directly from the customers was that the bad news sucked but they preferred to hear out right the bad news, without delay, so they could deal with it and move forward sooner. In some cases where I had to give bad news to these customers, most times they appreciated my effort to tell them and respected me, and the company, more so for the honesty and for being up-front.
This past week however, I was on the other end of this. I was faced with an avoidant salesman who feared telling me the truth so much, he avoided me in person and proceeded to waste my time, simply because he was afraid of my reaction. At least, that’s my assumption as to why he behaved the way he did.
You see, last weekend, my boyfriend and I made a purchase for some furniture. Excited, we arranged delivery for Tuesday morning, knowing I would be working from home. I confirmed with the salesman many times in store that delivery would be Tuesday before midday and that I should get a phone call.
Tuesday came, 11:45am, no phone call and no sign of anyone showing up, I decided to enquire as to their whereabouts. The person on the free-phone enquiries phone number mentioned delivery was scheduled for Thursday. After advising him this wasn’t correct and was not what was promised to me on the Sunday, he proceeded to transfer me to the salesman who had assisted me in store.
The salesman then proceeded to explain that the delivery company needed 48hours notice for bookings. OK. I can understand that. However, what I couldn’t understand and was not happy with was why he didn’t tell me this on Sunday.
He then explained he wasn’t aware of this until the next morning. OK. I can also understand that. Delivery people don’t tend to work Sundays. Fair enough. What I then couldn’t understand was why, when I popped into the store on the Monday morning to make a payment, he was suddenly not available. He had told me the day before he would be there. The other staff seemed certain he was there however, on the phone on Tuesday he was telling me he was off sick.
With none of this matching up, I cut off his excuses and fed back to him what he was saying to me. This is how the remainder of the conversation went (loosely summed up):
“So, you found out Monday morning that my delivery was not going to happen on the Tuesday as promised. You proceeded to re-schedule it to Thursday on my behalf without consulting me to see if this would suite, which it doesn’t. No one will be home.”
“Yes, ma’am but…”
“No, I’ve heard your excuses. I’ve no time for that. You could have phoned. If you were that ‘sick’ on Monday and couldn’t pick up the phone, you could have emailed. Or, had the other staff tell me when I was there. In not contacting me, I have sat here waiting for a delivery which isn’t happening. So, you have also wasted my time. I have a job and need to work. Had I not called, they would have attempted delivery on Thursday where no one is home. Can you now see why this is not great?”
“Yes. And I apologise. Let’s sort another delivery time.”
I won’t relay the remainder of the conversation. It was nice that the dude apologised. I think my lecture at him nearly broke him. (I’m not exactly the nicest person when my time is being wasted) But, it all could have been avoided had he phoned in the first place.
Maybe, if he called or talked to me Monday morning, I would have been a little annoyed but, my time on Tuesday would not have been wasted. I may have grizzled a little bit but, I would have respected him more and appreciated him for phoning me and sorting it straight away. I know it’s not an easy job being in customer service. Like I mentioned at the start, I’ve been there. I’ve been yelled at and abused for being the messenger. It sucks. But, it’s better to pick up the phone and relay the bad news than to avoid it and create a worse situation.
Can we handle the truth? Yes! We can. I think it’s more that we can’t handle telling someone the bad news & are sometimes so afraid of the outcome that we avoid/don’t tell the truth to begin with. Sometimes, you just got to bite the bullet and get on with it. Both parties end up better off for it in the long run.
Have you ever experienced this? Are you an avoidant person or a you pretty much straight up and honest always?
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