Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Never Assume Ill Intent

I really like my CEO on a professional level as well as a personal level.

I have been a part of, and been witness to conversations with my CEO that went something like this:

"What is going on with [insert client name here]?"

"They are pure evil and they want us to die painfully and slowly."

"No, seriously. What is the real problem? You should never assume ill intent."

And he is totally right. Out of all this mess with Dell Customer and Technical Support, I have never once thought anyone I dealt with actually wished me harm.

In fact, most of the conflicts I have had in my life came from the fact that the other person thought they were doing the right thing. Even people who drive slow in the far left lane probably have a legitimate-to-them reason to justify their behavior, even though we all know that driving slow in the far left lane is instant damnation in at least 99.5% of the world's religions. (Why are you holding out on us, Church of Satan?)

Don't get me wrong - there is evil in the world and people can be malicious. What my CEO says, and what I repeat, is that your default setting should be "never assume ill intent." If you discover that someone is, in fact, malicious, act accordingly. But don't just assume someone is being terrible off the bat. (What's that saying? We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions.)

I write this because one of the most interesting things that has happened to me after this whole Dell debacle* is the way that some - well, one - person on a bulletin board decided my whole story was BS. I got the sense this person was a Dell employee because of things said about the Dell Tech Support screens and internal call processes, so it was easy to tell this person's motivation - this person saw me as attacking the home turf and rushed to defend it.

Which is totally fair. The internet is for people to exchange ideas, not a place for everyone to agree on everything all the time. And if I put out something as inflammatory as my previous post (which, I admit was exaggerated for entertainment purposes but essentially true), I should be prepared for someone to point out that I am just throwing the internet equivalent of a tantrum and that I should calm down and think long and hard about how difficult it is for those poor Dell Technical and Customer Service people to take a lunch break while I am on hold for extended periods of time. (Which, to be fair, only happened once. "Our supervisor is at lunch right now, so I can't transfer you. Would you mind holding? Or would you just like to call back later?")

What baffles me about this one person who kept questioning my integrity and honesty is the speculative lengths this person would go to as far as deciding what my real motive was. It could not be because I actually have a broken Dell and actually had a poor, extended round-and-round with Dell Customer Service and Dell Technical Support. It had to be some other reason.

Eventually, it was decided that this whole thing was a sham to artificially increase my blog traffic. I am sure stunts like this have been done in the past, but I could care less about blog traffic; all I want is a working computer and my data restored. Of course, for me to say to this person, "I don't care about blog traffic," is tantamount to a confession because obviously I am a lying liar who lies about the lies I have lied about.

Anyway, I understand the intent of this person - he or she is obviously proud of Dell Tech Support and doesn't like it when people like me take their frustrations to the internet at large. Which is a fine position to take, but speculating about my reasons for writing what I did seems pointless, especially since I can provide confirmation numbers and some chat transcripts to back up my story. The reaction just baffled me a little.

Just had to get that off my chest. So far, my two positive takeaways from this whole mess are twofold:

1) This "Never Assume Ill Intent" credo works for me and I am sticking to it.
2) If I ever become a method actor, I finally have an angry feeling to draw upon to get myself into the moment.

*For those of you still interested in "the Dell Situation," the issues with my PC are still unresolved as of this writing, but partly because I haven't had the time to get on the phone with Brad at Dell (see comments of the previous entry) - our office hours overlap and it is difficult for me to make personal calls on the job. The best time for me to talk on the phone is in the evening, and Brad leaves the office at 4pm. I've ordered some data recovery software for the external hard drive. Only one of the two internal drives show up when I boot the computer, but at least it boots which is a step up from before. And, yes, I appreciate all of the emails and Twitters suggesting I make the switch to Mac. I also appreciate the testimonials about the wonders of the Mac Store Genius Bar. Mostly, I am grateful for the emotional support in what amounts to a trying time for me. I have a really great group of friends and family and I wouldn't trade them for anything, including a new computer.


InvisibleMarketing said...

"Never Assume Ill Intent" also works nicely in marriages. :)

Even in new car buying, wherein I know the other party's interests are significantly out of alignment with my own, I know they're just trying to earn a living and/or do what their boss is making them do.

"Never Assume Ill Intent" also doesn't necessarily mean you assume the other side is informed, correct, competent or motivated to act on behalf of your own interests. Especially when you're dealing with a business negotiation.

NoRegrets said...

Well, I guess the guy just wanted to get some stuff off of his chest.

I like the credo. And I agree. I know I'm pms-ing when I start assuming that everyone is out to get me. Or is that when I've forgotten to take my medication? :-)

Cyber D said...

So next week when I track you down somewhere around White Rock Lake, knock you over the head, take your wallet and tussle your hair... just remember I didn't mean any ill intent.

Next week is going to be so awesome!

M. Robert Turnage said...

Cyber - they're installing new lights around White Rock Lake to prevent the likes of the ill-intended, because evil hates the light!

Fortunately for some of you, the people in my neighborhood are protesting this effort because of the "light pollution issue" a well-lit trail all the way around the late poses.

Think of the children coyotes!

Tera said...

Okay after struggling with the title for several minutes before realizing that was "Ill" and not III...I need to learn to do that more graciously.