The 4 Deadly D-Words

Whether it’s business or personal, worse than using the F-bomb is defaulting to the four deadly D-words.  Not sure what those words are?  Don’t worry.  Today’s Business Tuesday entry takes all four of them on at once.


When it comes to addressing and resolving issues, nothing puts a period at the end of that quicker than denying that there’s an issue to address or resolve.  Denial is not conducive to constructive dialogue, and doesn’t pave the way for two parties to find a middle ground both of them can accept.  What’s more, customers have long memories when it comes to businesses that opt for denial over dialogue.  No one likes to be hoodwinked or marginalized.


While this isn’t as bad as denial, when you delay addressing an issue or delay working out an amenable solution to both parties, you may as well be denying that an issue that needs your attention exists.  Delaying leaves a bad impression, and oftentimes a bad taste, with others, and they’re apt to avoid dealing with you and your business in the future.


It’s important to own up to what you could have done better.  This doesn’t mean you should take on all the blame when things go wrong in business as there are usually a chain of events and people involved when a product or service falls short of its customer promise.  However, sharing the blame or shouldering the blame isn’t the same as discrediting others in order to escape blame.  If you’re willing to discredit others rather than accepting responsibility and doing something to resolve an issue with customers, don’t be surprised if you alienate your customer base.  No one wants to think they could find themselves on your “Discredit” list at some point in the future.


Everyone has comparison shopped at some point in their lives, so it’s no surprise to learn that entrepreneurs and small businesses have engaged in comparing their products and services to that of their competitor.  That in itself is not a problem.  What is a problem is when you use your competitor’s failings or shortcomings to destroy them as a way to safeguard your own business.  Customers have long memories when it comes to this behavior, and it’s best not to engage in it at all.  Ever.

Final Note

While I don’t recommend use of the F-bomb any more than I would recommend use of any (or all) of the deadly D-words, it’s important to realize that entrepreneurs and business owners are human.  They are going to make mistakes, and they might even unintentionally fall into one of the D-words if they feel their product or service is being unfairly attacked.

There’s a way to repair the damage, and that’s to be sincere with an apology.  Not surprising is the fact that customers, for the most part, can be very forgiving because they realize that sometimes, poor judgment happens.

Be willing to be human, and know that this will only endear you to your customers and clientele as well as your suppliers, your employees, and your contractors.

Elyse Bruce


One Response to “The 4 Deadly D-Words”

  1. cairennhouse Says:

    Great article! It could be a metaphor for a personal relationship problem I’m having right now. Furthermore, the solution to both is the same – taking personal responsibility and offering a sincere apology. You are correct; most of us are not only willing to forgive, but eager to do so.

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