You might have been hearing a lot about narcissism lately. Since we don’t do politics here we won’t go into the reasons why that is, but since it’s been front and center I thought I’d do a little reading on the topic. I came across this summary in Psychology Today which I’d encourage you to read. See if it sounds like anyone you know or might have read about.
In any event, as I was reading it I realized that the traits narcissists exhibit are often displayed by some brands or businesses as well. As with people, I think displaying some of the traits I’m about to mention are signs of a personality disorder. The brands are sick, in other words. As with any illness, they require treatment, but the first step to fixing the illness is to diagnose it. Let’s see if any of these traits, sound like your business.
- You have a grandiose sense of self-importance. You don’t acknowledge that you’re one of many potential solutions to a customer’s problem. In fact, you might just think customers are there to solve your problems;
- You lack empathy: your company is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others – customers, vendors, even your own employees;
- You show arrogant, haughty [rude and abusive] behaviors or attitudes. Customer service is impersonal and rarely resolves the problem to the customer’s satisfaction, putting the business first;
- A corollary to that is that people who criticize your business are written off as idiots because you believe that you and your products are “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). You know: people who “get” it;
- Your business puts out inordinately self-righteous and defensive messages. The brand is never wrong, even when it’s clear you are (look up the Apple response to complaints about the iPhone 4 dropping calls. Apple’s response? People are holding the phone incorrectly);
- Finally, you often react to contrary viewpoints with anger or rage. This might be social media comments you delete or refuse to acknowledge or it might be to bar certain press from your events. You might “ban” a customer because they’re too demanding or undercut people who criticize you rather than discuss the merits of their claims.
If three or more of the above signs sound familiar to how your business behaves, you need help. As with narcissistic people, narcissistic businesses have a lot of difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. As we all know, it’s those relationships with our customers and others that keep us in business. Without them, we’re dead. OK?