Stuff Happens

Oct 24 21:00 2002 Dave Balch Print This Article

Stuff happens. You can't always be perfect, and ... expect you to be, but when ... goes wrong youhave a great ... to learn a number of ... about people in general a

Stuff happens. You can't always be perfect,Guest Posting and people
don't expect you to be, but when something goes wrong you
have a great opportunity to learn a number of interesting
things about people in general and yourself in particular,
as well as how to handle such situations. As an example,
here's something that recently happened to me.

I have a free newsletter that I send by email. When someone
signs up for it at my website, I send them a "Welcome"
message to thank them for subscribing and to send them the
most recent issue. Last week I accidentally sent this
"Welcome" message to my entire list of over 2500 existing
subscribers in 20+ countries!

I realized what had happened within 5 minutes, and
immediately sent a message to the entire list (on purpose
this time!) to apologize and not to worry; they were not on
the list twice and would not be receiving duplicate
newsletters in the future. The reaction was immediate and
surprising, to say the least. One of the first to respond
told me that he never subscribed (remember, this message was
thanking people for subscribing), that I better not charge
him for it or he will report me to the FBI (!), and that I
was a "stinking con-artist". What made this especially
interesting is that this particular individual has been
receiving my newsletter every other week for over a year!!!

Several others told me that they never subscribed and to
remove them from the list. Again, all of them had, in fact,
subscribed and had been receiving the newsletter for many
months. (I have never nor would I ever send the newsletter
to anyone who hadn't specifically requested it.)

Then there were the "faithful"; the many nice people who
sent a quick note such as "Don't worry about it", "You're
spending too much time in your bathrobe", and "It's always
nice to hear from you, even if by mistake".

Here are some things that I learned:

1. You can't please everyone, no matter what you do. Some
people are just cranky, so you have to just let them be
cranky! Nothing you say or do will placate them.

2. Sometimes you just have to let go. At first I tried to
tell those who complained that they had been on the list for
months, but then realized that if these people don't even
realize that there is no sense trying to hold on to them.
They obviously don't need the newsletter or read it. "Buh-
bye"!

3. I've got to lighten-up on myself. Even though the
negative messages amounted to less than 1/2 of one percent,
and they were outnumbered by positive messages by at least 4
to 1, I still found myself focusing on them and feeling bad
about it.

4. When something goes wrong, it is important to try to
identify ALL of the ramifications. It never occurred to me
that people would see the "Welcome" message and think they
were subscribed to something new. If I had thought of that,
I would have mentioned it in my follow-up message and
perhaps fended off a few of the requests to get off of the
list. (Maybe not... see #1 above!)

The next time something goes wrong, think it through calmly
before you take action. Then let the chips fall where they
may and look at the entire situation as a learning
opportunity. If you don't, it just might happen again.

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Dave Balch
Dave Balch

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