Lisboa. Websummit A tech and innovation conference. 70 000 visitors invading the town for 5 days. Spending their days in a gigantic stadium. Visitors from all around the world that websummit staff and organisation has to welcome, orient, manage, feed security check. That is a serious spot for large crowd.
Aside the conferences, meeting, pitch, visit, goodies quest, people eat also in this stadium. I was at websummit, I am the people, and I needed food also. On the second day, I managed to get a kebab with french fries on site (after a morning Nutella crepe, now you get it, I am not an healthy food blogger). I sat on one of the many terraces, usually shared across all restaurants, food trucks and fa(s)t food delivery house. A lady came to me and said, you can not seat there unless you eat at our brand. The reality is that she had to repeat it as I don’t speak portugese, and could not catch it immediatly. I thought. Okay. That’s fair. I did not notice that rule, but anyway, that’s the rule. And she added, pointing her finger, you can go there if you want.
“There” was a set of wet and broken plastic chairs, located under the rain. You know, the ones that makes your dress wet when you seat and pinch your ass when you stand up.
I went to a safer place and I realized. Seating on a broken chair under the rain ? Seriously. I was not blaming her. Crowd pressure, working hard, constant jingles, mic annoucement, repeating all day long …
I was there, on her perimeter, by accident. What were the options ? She could.
i) Ignore me.
ii) Remind me the rule (kindly or not).
iii) Direct me to an actual open shared terrace.
But inviting me to a bad option – probably thinking this might help me to leave the terace quicker. I wondered how this could even be an option. And then I realized that this is a behavior that may be common to too tired people, too nasty people and too empathic people. Why would those people try to help with a wrong option ? Well, the first because they are not in control, under stress, low bandwidth, grab first idea coming to evacuate the problem. The second, to help by any means, to release the pain they can not stand. The last, to take advantage of the situation, to feel superior. (I let you realizing which one is your regular camp).
Translated to collaboration situation, with team members, with customers, with nobody – who can always be a future partner. I believe that whatever our camp, we should never cross the red line to offer the wrong options to solve a friction situation.
“Oh ! I am soo sorry for you. Call the helpdesk”, which never answers.
“You know what ? Manage that with this boss” who is a famous grimpy guy.
“Sure ! Take that direction”, when actually we are not sure it is the right way.
“Hey. Stay in the middle of the street” when it is well known that a car race is coming.
(I let you find thousand exemples of absolutely not appropriate advices in your Twitter timeline).
Either. Give people a serious option that is a first step towards solution that has a real value, for a reasonnable adult (there is a map with authorized terraces there).
Or. Just remind the play rules, don’t give option, shut up*.
Anyway. Keep your toxic options for you. The person you want to badly save (or drawn) will always remember the wet dress, the ass pinched on the chair. There is a chance he or she will associate that souvenir with with your team, departement, town or brand.
What do you think ?
*The most elegant might apologize for not being able to help, but sometimes, while we think it is a cherry on the cake, it may generate even more frustration. No one on earth has a mission to save (or drawn) anyone they meet and there is no need to apologize.