Last week I was in the process of terminating a contract with a company.
The company with which I was terminating had been unreliable and on one occasion, unethical. Upon hearing who I was transferring to, they sent me an email stating, “We are currently in the process of regaining multiple contracts from people who transferred to XYZ company earlier in the year, so I will make a note to give you a call in two months’ time and see if you are ready to come back to us”.
I was gob smacked! And I quickly replied: “I’d really prefer you didn’t call me in two months’ time. I am never impressed when people talk negatively about their competitors. I find it reflects more poorly on the person talking than the business in question”.
There are definitely going to be times when a carefully worded warning concerning a FACTUAL issue may be warranted.
For example, when we were getting quotes to build a pool, the company we ended up signing with had warned us about an unnecessary (and expensive) inclusion that a particular pool company ‘surprises’ customers with half way through building. Sure enough, some friends were stung with exactly this scenario soon after we heard this warning, so we knew it was legitimate. But even that concern was delivered in a fair manner (that is, they didn’t cast generalised, negative dispersions on the company in question).
A number of times I have experienced awkward situations when meeting new clients, who have sought my services because they are unhappy with a competitor (a competitor who I know has spoken negatively about me). And although it can be difficult to find the right words, my replies are never directed at this competitor. I work hard to redirect the conversation to “the way that I do XYZ is this…”, making no mention of the other business.
My philosophy is that actions speak louder than words. I can tell everyone that I am the best, and better than all my competitors. But if the way I build up my business is to tear others’ down, my negativity will soon catch up with me, and my badmouthing will lead to no good.