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The Cost of Ranting

Possibly the commonest place to make this mistake is with suppliers. Reversing the mantra "my customer is always right" to "my supplier is always wrong" fails to understand the relational nature of business. You can upset a supplier, but when the chips are down and the suppliers can't meet everyone's demands, who will get the goods, or receive the emergency callout? Not you. Who will the supplier try hardest to price badly? It's you again. Ranting in any context undermines confidence and upsets people, so it's best to think before we speak.

Online, it's worse! Due to the often impersonal aspect of email, blogs, bulletin boards and social networks, restraint is often forgotten. An ill-thought email can cause just as much distress as unkind words spoken in person. In writing, the offence can be mulled over and passed around. You're not there to gauge the reaction, so there is no opportunity for damage limitation. Blogs and bulletin boards are bad enough, but at least it's possible to edit messages after they are posted. With email and many social networks like Twitter, once you've pressed the send button, it's all too late.

The rise of the online political rant might tell us something. With people blurting out things that would get a punch in the mouth if said in the pub, there's generally much more heat than light. Maybe it's due to the lack of real time feedback in electronic communication - nobody sees the whites of each others eyes or worries that they may receive a sharp dressing down.

In my experience well formed business debate will, over time, win the day. It doesn't always produce instant results, but does eventually influence the vast majority of people.

In contrast, a rant generally results in a quick hurrah from those who agree. But the damage to your reputation in the wider and more reasonable world can be very insidious. There are few occasions where angry words produce a good outcome in business. For those of us tempted to indulge, it's best to zip it.

By Chris Barling, CEO, Sellerdeck. Originally published on

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