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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Moving to a State of Grace

Blasting a business partner on social media is flat-out wrong

I’ve done a weekly podcast with my good friend Kirby Hasseman for almost five years. Whether it’s been unScripted or Promo UPFront, there have been common themes that pop up from time to time, with the most common being the lack of professionalism in the “Promotional Products Professionals” Facebook page. To be candid, I generally don’t mind said lack of polish as it provides tremendous fodder for our weekly discussions.

However, last week something different happened in that a promotional products distributor posted the below. Unlike the protagonist here, I will show a high degree of professionalism by not sharing his photo or name.

The moment I saw this post, I had one thought and one thought only: what did the author expect to happen by sharing?

Now, before I go any further, I should share that I have quite a few close friends who work at Hit: Megan Pyecha, Lisa Shane, Mike Marias, Eric Carr, Glen & Brett Hersch, and, CJ Schmidt to name a few. I share this because what I’m about to write (and you’re hopefully about to read) has nothing to do with my friendships at this supplier. Had the same post been directed to a supplier where I didn’t know a soul, my thoughts would be the same.

It’s a bit laborious to know precisely where to start, but I think the fact that he called out a supplier publicly is good enough for me. The promotional products industry is fraught with opportunities for failure – it’s merely the nature of the industry. Many hands touch every order, and each time it is, there is a possibility somebody will drop the ball. Mistakes happen because that’s simply the nature of the world. As John Bender stated so eloquently in The Breakfast Club, “screws fall out all the time. The world is an imperfect place.”

However, instead of directly addressing the issue with the supplier, he shared his displeasure with over 11,000 people. Again, what did he expect to happen after posting that? Well, if it was the promotional products cavalry riding to the rescue, he was sorely mistaken. Instead, he was (rightly) directed to resolve with the supplier in a respectful, behind-the-scenes manner. In fact, several people from Hit – including one executive – reached out to him in their comments to offer their assistance. Not surprisingly, all of those offers were ignored as it became crystal clear that the author wasn’t interested in solving the issue at all. Instead, he just wanted to bash a business partner publicly.

Folks, this isn’t a productive way to solve anything, especially when you consider the following:

  • The order wasn’t wrong at all; a proof wasn’t sent before production

  • The order the author submitted did not ask for a proof to be sent prior to production

  • The order was shipped and delivered early

In other words, the supplier in question did the most important things right: they produced fantastic branded merchandise that will be used and kept for years, did so at a fair price, and it arrived before the client’s in-hands date. Complaining about this is akin to griping publicly about American Airlines because they ran out of Fresca on your flight after they’ve flown you to your destination safely, on time, and without losing your luggage. When you add that he never even asked for a proof to be delivered before shipment, that only underscores the entire situation’s absurdity.

Here’s where you’re likely saying to yourself, “great story, Bill, but what’s the point?” I’m so glad you asked. The world is vastly different now than it was six years ago. Specifically, and as it relates to professional mistakes, companies have been forced to ask employees – the ones who weren’t furloughed or laid off – to do twice the work. To not expect a few things to fall through the cracks on occasion isn’t realistic.

The truth is, we are ALL doing more with less due to market conditions, the pandemic, and a million other things. Everyone is feeling stressed, so before deciding to assail someone – especially publicly – why not extend a bit of grace? I don’t know one person who purposely makes a mistake that would harm their business relationship, and I would guess you don’t either. Instead of thinking the worst of people in a given situation, remain in a state of grace and work TOGETHER to solve the issue.

By publicly aiming a flame-thrower at Hit, he put himself directly in the firing line as over 50 people came to the defense of the supplier – including me. The author of the post wasn’t interested in extending any sort of grace to Hit for a perceived problem – the very same grace he would expect from his client should he metaphorically stub his toe. I say perceived because he never requested a proof on the original PO, which means his initial gripe should be directed at the person in the mirror and not at a company that did everything right.

We all find ourselves in situations where the little things that seem to go wrong ends up being the straw that breaks the back of our personal camel. In those moments, take a deep breath and extend some grace to the offending party as it will set the table for resolution instead of unproductive finger-pointing.

The state of grace exists, and the world will be a far better place if we plant our roots there.

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