I read two terrific posts recently. One from Chris Brogan titled, How USAir Turned My Grumpy Mood Around, and the other from David Mullen which leads with the lines, You Made A Mistake. Is This How You React? I was struck by their similar theme: The importance of just being human. Simple right?
Simple maybe. Common, not really. The reason is a bit ironic if you think about it. We try to preserve an image of perfection in a world where everyone knows we're not perfect. It may sound silly, but it happens every day. People who fear what they regard as public humiliation or legal liability eschew the practice of admitting error. (The "apologizing is a sign of weakness" crowd.) They fear bad press and adverse jury verdicts. But neither the general public nor members of a jury will typically punish people/companies for being human. They punish them for being just the opposite.
Consider this simple exercise I often conduct during crisis communication workshops. I ask the group to give me list of the attributes that separate their very best friend in the world from all other friends and acquaintances. They typically respond with thoughts such as trustworthy, there when I need them, good listener, etc. I've never had anyone say that "perfection" should be included on the list. There are two pieces of good news here. First, people don't expect perfection even from their best friends (so they certainly don't expect it from others). They understand we all make mistakes. Second, if you want to know what people do expect from you, just look at the list offered by the group.
The fact is, relationships aren't weakened by adversity, they're strengthened by it - as long as we step up in a manner that reflects the best in our human nature. Chris Brogan likes USAirways more than he did last week, and David Mullen has gone up a notch in the eyes of his client. How about that?!