During the Australian election campaign, Australian businessman and politician responded to a TV presenter’s questions. This man is so removed from reality by the biggest buffer there is: ego. When challenged over his $60 million election advertising campaign he replied:
“my wealth is four thousand million dollars — do you think I give a stuff about what you personally think? Or anyone else?”
Ouch! that has got to hurt a run for top office, hasn’t it? Do we want people representing us in charge of running a country who refuse to be accountable?
Recently I posted a link to an article about privilege, particularly the types most prevalent in society in the United Kingdom: gender, race, sexual orientation and class. A white man responded saying it was “abhorrent and racist” to suggest there was white privilege and suggested it took people’s attention away from the REAL inequality: the rich poor divide. How? Privilege must be a main contributor to the rich and poor divide.
Great Wealth Divide
In the United States, the 0.01% have found ways to protect themselves from threats to their great wealth, while the one percent are being squeezed down. For instance, political lobbying. With a President who uses the term “fake news” to brand anything that threatens his ego, billionaires who would lock up millions in artworks, cars and luxury goods, have been known to fund entire buildings for top universities to buy their offspring a place.
This is entitlement at its most extreme. An article in the New Stateman by writer and journalist Laurie Penny describes the divergence of opportunity in Silicon Valley between men and women. It is highlights how “hard done by” the male nerds felt when female nerds didn’t seem to want to sleep with them. They never considered for one moment what social norms a woman would have to crash through to approach a geek and proposition sex.
Damned if they do. Damned if they don’t
The “Noblesse Oblige” have gone. The UK government under Blair went to lengths to discredit hereditary peers in the House of Lords, those who did not have a bias and were challenging government’s policies. Now the Upper House is full of ex-Tory Ministers. Meanwhile vote-pleasing career politicians, who stepped straight out of private school privilege and Oxbridge and never had a real job, made decisions for people whose lives they had never experienced and who undoubtedly considered to be at fault for their own misfortunes.
The media continues to ignore real reasons for the decrease in social mobility. A program about seven year olds from all different backgrounds going to work shows how reinforced and subliminal our responses to privilege are. A spoilt male child from a wealthy background will be much more confident, demanding, defensive, expectant and dominant than a girl from Middlesborough for example.
Yet the Belgravia-based Russian mother of a boy who wanted to go to Eton kept saying he would have to be the leader. Another boy who was confident about his rigid image of a father and overturned the vote to use both children’s images for a chocolate box to have his used and the girl’s discarded. She accepted it with resignation. It probably reinforced the existing limiting beliefs she held about how much she could achieve. A bright girl was put as manager, as the bullying management, entitled, approach of the spoilt boy was criticized and he went home. Another little boy launched into the girl manager, who had done a highly democratic and good job, calling her “dumb” and she took it on board and questioned herself. The name caller didn’t question himself and no-one responded to him.
Oh So Romantic
An Australian Rom Com spoof starring Rebel Wilson (Perfect Pitch 1 and 2 among other films) highlights how gender bias is reinforced in romance. A man is allowed to stalk a woman into accepting him, whereas a girl is “rescued” from being single. Rom coms such as Happy Birthday Toby Simpson show how these films are essentially male fantasies. The Atlantic published article showing “classic scenes” from romcoms showing stalking behavior by men. Therefore, it reinforces the discrimination in society and business between men and women.
People do not like to let go of power. However, this We Forum article shows how evidence has proven that relationships based in equality are more successful than conservative ones where men have the upper hand.
We cannot see our privilege. The more privileged someone is, the more likely they will be to feel hard done by because they see someone else receiving an unearned advantage over them. They will not see all the times they were chosen over that other social group. They will see all their advantages as earned by them. For example, a white male might think that the 0.01% are getting richer by paying less tax per dollar, but not that they do not have a glass ceiling or get paid less for the same work as a woman. That is called “entitlement”
There is real ego at play here. Today I researched an app called Curable and went to look at their reviews to find out how the app worked. As a hard of hearing person (who doesn’t get pain) it wasn’t something I was going to try.
Their responses to bad reviews was “we are sorry you felt like that” or “we are sorry you interpreted our words that way” followed by a confusing explanation. With all the market research and satisfaction surveys around, why have companies seldom been practiced in the art of absorbing customer feedback? Ego.
Think of an ego as an inflatable sleeping bag coat. One of those full length puffer coats with a hood. Imagine someone taking a bicycle pump and inflating your jacket to its maximum capacity. This is a buffer from the world around you. It might get too hot, senses are impaired, cues are missed, opportunities missed, movement prevented and the way ahead obscured.
Compare this with being in nature. A swim in the sea or a walk in the forest. Imagine hearing the birds that are singing and the rustle of leaves and the wind, being able to respond to approaching wildlife, to feed or avoid, and having every sense sight, sound, touch, smell, taste and intuition fully alive and satisfied?
What does the ego protect against? Connectivity is the main thing. The difference between working with someone and competing against them. The difference between discussing something or dismissing it. The difference between rejecting and responding, What about giving information compared to giving advice?
We might not be equal but we’re equally perfect
As well as evidence that equality creates happier relationships, this Inc article shows being connected to reality is acceptance. The root of everything is acceptance. If you can accept yourself exactly as you are, you can accept others. You can also put in boundaries and see when something is not acceptable. Then you can change it.
Firstly, New York Times bestselling author and 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson came up with this fantastic quote:
There is no more powerful motivation than to feel we’re being used in the creation of a world where love has healed all wounds. We are no longer ambitious for ourselves, but are rather inspired by the vision of a healed world. Inspiration rearranges our energies. It sources within us a new power and direction.
Secondly, author of Daring Greatly, other books and TED talk inspiration Brene Brown shows a pathway to self-actualisation. You do not have to be the richest person to reach the top of the Maslow Triangle.
What Does This Mean?
I started out talking about ego and realising how much it cheats people and companies. However, this is in their blind spot. While companies spend so much on surveys and market research, asking their customers to give their time responding to rigid and sometimes irrelevant questions, why can’t they process real organic feedback? Why can’t politicians listen to voters? Why is it so hard to hear what is going on?
The ego tells you it is worse and less fixable than it is. For example, I reported to my bank that their customer satisfaction survey didn’t work as the keypad number I pressed wasn’t recognised. They told me that there were no issues then they apologised for my frustration with their response.
Instead, a company could just say “thank you for letting us know”. No explanations, no defensiveness, no dismissing, no buffering. Just acceptance and acknowledgment to show the customer’s care to report something not working is as valuable as it actually is to the company.
So often these issues can be easily fixed with better communication. It is always a matter of perspective, where the company has not tried to see themselves from their customers’ points of view. They haven’t tried their own services or visited their website for the first time. New visitors to websites can be their greatest ambassadors. Why do companies waste this word of mouth marketing bonanza? Smugness or insecurity? Ego either way.
Visiting a new website for the first time is like visiting an unfamiliar town where you do not know the lay of the land and have to reply on signposts and a map. Unfortunately many companies are familiar with their own website navigation and do not try to find out if it is easily navigable for a new customer. Then they bat off feedback as the customer at fault. Such a waste. Ego again. I know my home town so you should too.
Customers are discouraged to speak up again when the company tells them their difficulties are their own problem and not a fault with the service they are using. That is beyond reproach.
One roadmap to self-actualisation is just taking people’s responses to you and responding openly. Acknowledging people for daring to give you some information. That is all they are doing.
Weirdly, now I cannot find the range of reviews of Curable. I have searched the iTunes store, the Curable testimonials and reviews page, my history, my bookmarks, nothing. Therefore I cannot show they told customers that their interpretation of clumsily worded “your pain is your opinion” or other difficulties with the app are the customers’ problems, not theirs. How come? If it is your business, it is your business surely? This comes over as smug.
If companies think that hiding their less favourable reviews makes them seem better, let us see how long they last.