“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life.” — Elsie de Wolfe

Friday, 30 April 2010

Do Wrongs Weigh More Than Rights?

Something happened recently that got me thinking. . .

A friend who sells a great item that they designed, has had hundreds and hundreds of unsolicited comments praising their work, their ingenuity and the value for money it provided. Then out of the blue one person, said that it wasn't worth the (already cheap) price.

Well it was laughed off and things moved on, until it came time to renew some advertising and I found my friend looking pensive, so I asked "what's wrong" only to learn they were thinking of reducing the price!

I was aghast!

Why? I exclaimed! - If anything, the price should be raised you are selling it much too cheaply!

They replied. . . but, remember that comment? That person said that they thought it wasn't worth the money.

Isn't it shocking that just one negative comment could outweigh all of those hundreds of positive ones!

The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow
as when you go looking for your joy. - Eudora Welty

It is a bit like life I thought, where often the negative seems to have more weight.

We are surrounded by beauty, by positives, by what is 'right', and yet the shadow of 'what's wrong' seems to haunt us and cast a huge shadow in proportion to its size.

Perhaps we are hard wired for our own safety, to magnify what may be wrong, to protect us.

In primitive times I can imagine that it would have been a necessity for survival. - Perhaps because we still have those instincts, we pin those fears onto everyday things - small things that don't warrant the amount of concern we show them. Which leads us to an imbalance on the scales on which we subconsciously measure things and causes the 'wrongs' to start to weigh more than the 'rights'.

What do you think?


Jennifer said...

It's so true Susannah. There have been what were probably offhand comments that have stayed with me for years and years. In some ways, such comments could have changed my life.

Your post makes a point, not only about how we should recieve negative comments, but about how we should think before delivering them.

Suz said...

I wonder. truthfully, I believe in the end your friend was unhappy with her sales...and that one comment stung and stung...
and caused her to reevaluate her pricing..that's all...hopefully it's business at hand not emotions
...just an opinion

Susannah said...

Hi Jennifer and Suz,

yes there are some comments that perhaps meant nothing to the one that delivered them but touch something within us, which I think is what Suz is referring to.

If it touches something within us that isn't solid, so to speak, it can amplify our own insecurities or worries about something, especially if spoken by someone we recognise as an authority, or a friend.

Suz, I am sure that you have a point, if my friend was totally sure and confident in her pricing and product, that one comment probably wouldn't have been able to weedle itself in and cause doubt.

Thanks both of you for your thoughts. :-)

Barbara Scully said...

Hi S., and yes, it does seem that we remember the negative more than the positive. But also negative comments, particularly about something we have created, be it art or writing, really sting. And it is hard to let them go without them affecting you!

Thoughtful post! Thanks!

tamara hellgren said...

This is very true, and it reminded me there's a Sex & the City episode that focuses on the same question: Why do we believe our bad reviews?

It could be because there are certain "niceties" we are trained to use as social lubricants from a young age. Maybe hearing and speaking white lies and flattery makes us disinclined to believe compliments, or to be able to tell when they're sincere.

I also think it's human nature to want to improve constantly, so if you hear something nice you feel good about it, but it doesn't necessarily inspire you. But if you hear criticism, it hurts, but it also spurs you to make positive changes (as long as your self esteem and judgment are sound!).

I hope your friend listens to you! She has to value her own product so that her customers will too!

Ann said...

I don't understand this phenomenon either. It seems one negative can flush a thousand positives down the toilet. How can we change! We are all aware of this and we all suffer from it. Vicious circle.

Susannah said...

Hi Barbara
Yes, I agree it really does seem that way! Good to see you. :-)

Hi Tamara,
I think those are really good points, and great advice in -"She has to value her own product so that her customers will too" - yes, I totally agree.
It's nice to see you here. :-)

Hi Ann,
yes you are right - I think it comes down to feeling confident enough in what you do that outside opinion is relegated to that - just opinions. . . perhaps easier said than done though!
Nice to see you. :-)

nothingprofound said...

I think the key is not being defensive or taking oneself too seriously. Accept that there are always going to be people who, for whatever reason, will find fault with you-your work, your thoughts, your way of life. I always figure everyone has the right to their opinions and judgments, and maybe they're right about my errors and inadequacies, but that's no reason why I should let it bother me.

Susannah said...

Hi Nothing Profound,

That is a really great answer! :-)

Thanks very much for visiting, it is nice to see you here.

Dave said...

This is all so true, and I think you're right, Susannah, when you say that the negative comment touches our own insecurities. Deep down, we don't believe all of the good things or positive comments, so when that one negative comment hits, it shatters all of the good feeling.

I definitely have that problem myself. Coming to terms with it very slowly, but it's there.

Susannah said...

Hi Dave, yes it definitely seems to be true for most of us!

Nice to meet you and thanks very much for your comment. :-)


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