The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference. This idea came during a conversation with a friend about recognizing the exact moment we stop feeling the destructive inferno of emotion about a person or situation that has cost us something precious within ourselves. I try not to use the word hate in my writing. Not for any reason other than it doesn’t have a place in my life. I believe in focusing on the positive. I also believe there cannot be a true appreciation of it without the ability to discern it from the negative, and that ability, comes from both positive and negative experiences.

Half of all marriages reportedly fail. The reasons for this staggering statistic are innumerable. It’s interesting to me how often it is claimed that love and hate are the culprits.

“He loved his job/car/hobby/mistress(es) more than me.”

“I hated the way she always complained about not getting enough of my time/attention/sex, oh wait, she never actually complained about that, hmmm, oh it was money, yeah, she said we never had enough money. She doesn’t have to complain about that anymore.”

“We fell out of love. We loved each other; we just weren’t ‘in love’ anymore.”

“I hated how she nagged me to share my feelings and be more like Janet’s husband/grow a pair and be more like Derrick at the gym/ take out the trash/ take her on a vacation/ take some Viagra. Well one night, I walked into the kitchen, pulled a beer from the fridge and after I ate the dinner she prepared, I told her I thought for dessert I wanted a divorce. Take that you old bat!”

Those are excuses more than reasons. There are plenty of valid reasons for ending a relationship. It’s interesting that many of the same reasons why marriages fail are the same reasons why so many businesses fail. Of all the different relationships, personal and business, I have ended over the years, it wasn’t hate, but indifference that was the reason.

I’m not a perfect person. Duh. I try to limit my excuse making, but I can come up with some pretty creative excuses. So, when I hear excuses like “we’re really short-staffed” or “it’s been crazy busy,” “the economy has…”, or the absolute worst, “that’s our policy” masquerading as reasons for poor service, I think to myself, COME ON! You can do better than that.!#$%@

Why not try something like, “We love that you’re here in our store/restaurant/dealership/digital customer interfacing module, spending your disposable income so that our owners can maintain their habit/child support/lawyers and still make payroll. We hate to take your money without so much as a glance in your direction or the slightest intention of actually serving you. We’d love to just get you in and out of here, but hate to see you leave without asking if you found everything alright, even though we really don’t care if you did or not. We love it when it’s time to go on break, we love talking about when we will be going on break and what we did on break. We hate that you are so needy.”

“The service is what the service is.” That is a real statement given to us once by a FedEx customer “service” employee when we issued a complaint. It has become one of the phrases we use when we find that we have been given “the business.”  I’m not an expert on many things. I guess I just don’t have the dedication that being an expert takes. But I know customer service. Not the “she’s one tough customer” kind of customer service, but the genuine, quality is job one, follow-up, follow-through, make ‘em fill the basket AND sing your praises kind of customer service. CRM was my job and I can say with 100% certainty that businesses large and small may fail for reasons of competition, mismanagement, unreasonable expectations, deceptive business practices, greedy bastards, distribution channels that cross the Bermuda Triangle and El Niño. They don’t fail because of hate. They fail because of indifference.

12 thoughts on “Show Me The Love

  1. Spot – on. Indifference is a killer, because you don’t care, and when you recognise it in yourself, it’s so hard to come back from, and almost impossible to make oneself care…At least when you hate, you still care in some way.
    With a business, I don’t know either,. how d’you make people care enough to give good service?

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      “how d’you make people care enough to give good service/” Jeans days, deli trays, pixie dust…ALL a bust! Managers must model it. The way the treat their direct reports is a good place to start because really if you think about it, anyone who reports to you is like a customer of yours. They want something from you in order to give the company what it needs to stay in business. Just a thought. I could ramble about this for way longer than you would want. 😉

  2. artsifrtsy says:

    There is nothing more difficult with than indifference, you cannot make someone care. I hadn’t thought of it as the opposite of love, but I think you are right.

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      “cannot make someone care” – TRUE

  3. Wyrd Smythe says:

    It’s like a circle, the strong negative emotion side and the strong positive emotion side both curve up and around until there is just a teeny, tiny gap between them. That’s why love/hate relationships are possible–the two states are so close. And that’s why betrayed love turns to hate so easily; it’s just a short jump across the gap. It’s only when you slide down the curve, caring less and less, that you end up at the bottom: indifferent. Strong emotion is strong emotion; it just has a positive and negative pole, and both can zap you good.

    CRM, eh? I worked with Siebel CRM from 2004-2010, and now I’m working with SAP CRM (on the technical side: data integration).

    As for service, I’ve never understood how, in this age of nearly identical products, why companies don’t realize that service is the distinguishing feature. Most have an implicit business model of seeing just how much crap their customers will accept without walking away. Makes me c*r*a*z*y!!

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      Very interesting. Yeah, I wasn’t involved in tech, as you probably guessed, customer facing/call center, training, ops mgmt, escalated issue resolution, loss mit., etc.
      Customer service should be a no brainer in all business by now. It is so easy. I dealt with the angriest of the angry customers. Never broke sweat. A stapler once, but that’s a story for another day. 🙂

      1. Wyrd Smythe says:

        The guy who mentored me the first day on the job as a field tech gave me an outstanding piece of advice, “Always fix the customer. You may not be able to fix the machine (too broken, too expensive, no parts), but never walk out the door without fixing the customer.” (That is, making sure the customer knows what’s up and that you’re on his side.) That advice stood me in good stead ever since.

        So I totally agree: it should be a no-brainer. So why isn’t it so often?!?!

        1. Honie Briggs says:

          I think maybe it’s because most companies still aproach customer service with half a brain.
          Sounds like you had a wise mentor.

  4. You raise some interesting points here. I’d never thought of the opposite of love in any term other than hate, but…hmm. May have to rethink that now.

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      Let me know what you come up with. 🙂

  5. Brigitte says:

    This is sooooo true, Honie. There’s a fine line between love and hate. Indifference is the truest form of “lack of emotion” and that’s the worst there is. Great post and love how you tied any kind of relationship into this because you’ve nailed it. Exactly. How’s traveling? Hope there was enough Bicardi. 😀

    1. Honie Briggs says:

      You can never have enough Bicardi! Oh wait, yes you can. 🙂

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