My family operates on a strict “no news is good news” policy. While we are close-knit and perhaps overly communicative, the default position is that one need not worry if another is out of touch for a spell. This is an accommodation borne of necessity: the paternal lineage is full of adventurous souls and my mom comes from a long line of fretters. With all three of her boys frequently in remote locations in consequential situations, there is enough cause for concern to keep my poor mother up into the wee hours.
Thus, there is some small solace in knowing that a failure to check-in does not mean utter disaster. Of course, there are times when we have tried to circumvent this principle in order to decrease maternal angst, only for it to go awry. An earthquake in Alaska and a dislocated shoulder while she was in Spain come immediately to mind. Point being: adherence to the idea works for our clan.
Not everyone has the benefit of mutual understanding. Those in hospitality and retail cannot assume that silence of their customers equals satisfaction; they want desperately to receive detailed feedback. Consequently, we have become inundated with survey requests from merchants to the point where it has the appearance of a burden. And thus, we tend to ignore the inquiries.
Certainly, there are those vocal folks who chide for slights real and perceived, often in tones that would make Beelzebub cringe. But there is a silent majority into whose experiences the proprietors, hoteliers, and restauranteurs have no insight. Most people will just elect not to frequent an establishment if they have a bad experience, their gripe a mystery to the owner that is keen to address the problem. Or they will continue to shop at the store, but say nothing and harbor an increasingly large grudge that ends up satisfying neither retailer nor customer.
While productive critiques can help a business reach its full potential, constructive criticism is cliché for a reason. What is really missing in our commercial interactions is praise, and not of the faint variety. If you really love the job that the salesperson did in helping you select the perfect gift, or you were impressed with the tune put on your skis, or the meal that you had left you giddy, then tell someone, tell everyone.
Kudos that are well-earned not only reinforce the positive attributes of a company, but provide a necessary infusion of morale. A happy staff is a successful staff. And success, like failure, can be contagious. The spread of good vibes from one business to the next, from one shopper or diner to the next, imbues the community with that irresistible stoke to which visitors cannot help but be drawn. Remember, we are a Valley deeply rooted in the service economy.
Providing inciteful positive commentary works no hardship to the speaker. A minute to let someone know they are awesome is small currency to pay for the reward experienced by the person being complimented. Use as much detail as possible and do not reserve your commendations to just the higher-ups. Being sure to let a manager know about exemplary service from an employee can potentially make the worker’s career. At the least, it can do no harm.
In a moment when discord and incivility reign supreme, it is imperative that we remind ourselves and each other that good news, that good people do exist. We bear the responsibility for counteracting the vortex of doom.