Today I got one of many chain emails I receive daily in my inbox. Sometimes these chain emails are funny, sometimes inspiring, sometimes they are hoax emails that you really can't believe some fell for (and didn't bother checking on a hoax web site like Snopes), sometimes they are political or conspiracy rants leaning so far to the right or left they are in danger of throwing the earth off it's axis.
Most of these emails I glance at, and most of the negative ones I simply delete without responding to, though I do make a mental note of who sent them.
Today though, I answered back.
I did it because I thought it was time to call attention to the impact these can have on our business, our careers, and our success in general.
First, I want to point out a basic fact of business....
People do business with people who make them feel GOOD.
We should all write that in BIG letters across the top of our computer monitor.
Now the email I got today was from a member that I have always liked. I have always felt she had a good heart and she is in a business where her goal is to help people. So I was surprised by receiving this email from her. It was short and to the point. It went like this...
Why is it that if you cross the North Korean border illegally you get thrown into prison and get 12 years of hard labor... if you cross the Iranian border while out supposedly leisurely hiking in the hills you get arrested and imprisoned... But if you cross the U.S. border illegally you get a drivers license, a Social Security card and free health care. Whose bright idea was this?
The person forwarding it had added her own two cents... "a heckuva good question."
Now, the woman that forwarded this to me is in a business where her primary objective is to "sell" her products and services, meaning that her credibility and image are going to be big factors in her success. She had sent this along to (I assume) everyone on her group email list.
SO... this time I wrote back. The following is, in part, what I wrote her, and in part, what I added for this article here for general consumption.
Dear... (name withheld here)
I’d think seriously before forwarding along any chain emails that are negative or political in any way. You can’t assume that everyone on your list thinks the same way you do.
This email is worded in a way that is misleading, and, in my opinion, it’s simply a scare tactic to rile people up on the "illegal immigration issue." Frankly, for many, that issue is a lot more about racism then anything else, and the rest of us know it. I also find it ironic that the email seems to imply that we should be more like North Korea and Iran. Let's think about that... Is that what we REALLY want?
As to the "point" this email is trying to make. Let's dissect this:
While it is true that many illegal aliens obtain Social Security cards/numbers illegally (either by making up a number or using a "borrowed" one) ... They CANNOT get a VALID social security card in their own name.
Have you thought about what that MEANS?
It means that they PAY INTO social security and medicare. In fact, undocumented workers pay over 7 BILLION dollars into social security and medicare each year.
But they can’t COLLECT the benefits because, if they tried, they would be found out and possibly face deportation. So the vast majority are happy to pay in, as a cost of being here and working, yet they don’t have the nerve to try and get the benefits they paid for.
Do illegal immigrants get free heath care sometimes? Sure, sometimes. But generally it’s only in cases where they visit an emergency room or privately run free clinic. Otherwise they pay out of pocket for doctors visits, supporting the local economy. But considering the benefit, to the tune of 7 billion paid into social security and medicare each year, that WE reap from them, I wouldn’t sweat the occasional unpaid emergency room bill, it’s a pittance compared to what they pay into the system that benefits YOU and me. Also, if you don’t like that happening, then we have the option to completely revamp our heath care system to address that issue.
I would also propose this scenario to ask you a question...
A couple slips over the border from Mexico with their little baby. They are hard working, honest people hoping to give their little girl a better life. They hold down jobs, go to church and pay into social security using "borrowed" social security numbers. They are paying income taxes (same fake SS numbers, right?) and sales taxes for the goods they buy. Again, their trade helps support the local economy and the sales taxes help support the public services we all enjoy.
Now, their beautiful little baby has grown into a bright, 5 year old and is hit by a car one day while playing. They rush her to the emergency room hoping they can save her life. Are YOU going to be the one standing at the door telling them NO? Would YOU want to see that child lay there on the sidewalk and bleed to death because her parents don’t have the right paperwork? Do you want to have to explain why you chose to let that little girl die when you yourself are standing at the "pearly gates?"
As for the Driver’s license issue. Laws vary from state to state. Some states do not give driver's licenses without proof of citizenship or "green cards," some do. But considering that in all states you have to pass a test, and know the laws and rules of the road, in order to get a license, (which should, in theory, make you a better, safer driver), I’m all for the idea of people driving cars having licenses. Thinking that you are going to discourage people from coming to this country because they can’t drive legally... that might be like thinking two teenagers are not going to have sex because they can’t get their hands on a condom.
I'm just "arguing" these points to illustrate that there are always two, or more, sides to any "debate" and chances are, you are going to rile up about 50% of the people you forward something controversial to. Now some people might choose to only do business with those who share their political beliefs. But if we want to do business with everyone, it might be best to keep politics, religion and our opinion of who is going to win the next American Idol, out of communications we send to the "masses."
Regardless of our personal feelings about an idea put forth in a particular email, before we forward along things like this, it's a good idea to check the facts and think about the impression being made on potential clients.
If in doubt, don't send out.
At the least, we might end up forwarding along an email that is simply a lie, false, or deceptive. Many chain emails are simply stuff people made up, or picked up off the internet and sent out without fact checking. We should remember that ANYONE can write something on the internet.. it's simply a bigger version of writing on the bathroom wall. Just because it's on the internet, or we got it in an email, does not make it true. If we want to preserve our own credibility we need to keep this in mind. If people quit believing what we tell them... if we damage our credibility, what impact will this have on our business?
At the worst, depending on what the email is, someone may get an impression about your intentions, values, integrity, IQ, level of compassion, etc. that is not accurate, nor what you would want them to have. When you forward along an email you are, in effect, putting your "seal of approval" on it and implying that you agree with it.
It's important to think through the implications of that.
Most people will never tell you if you offended them. Instead, they will continue to be friendly and polite, but simply not do business with you, nor send you referrals.
It’s like in customer service... Many companies do not have a procedure in place to find out why customers have stopped doing business with them and, so, they never have the opportunity to “fix” the problem and just continue to lose customers. There are numerous instances of multi-million dollar companies going out of business because of their lack of "awareness."
Bottom line though... ANY kind of negativity does not have a positive impact on business. The same way you can kill your sales by talking badly about a competitor, you can have the same effect with negativity in general.
People do business with you when you make them feel GOOD. Positive, happy feelings release endorphins in the brain. Endorphins create enthusiasm and, like a key, they open wallets. Negative feelings cause people to shut down.
And regardless of whether someone is right, or wrong, about a particular issue, there is a saying from Maya Angelou that I think we can all agree with...
"People won't remember what you say, they won't remember what you do, but they will always remember how you made them FEEL.
Let's not dump negativity into each other's inboxes.
Let's try to make each other feel GOOD. Let's try to treat each other with love and compassion. Let's all strive to spend some of our time on this earth doing things that make the world a little better place for each other.
Note: For something fun and positive (yet unrelated) I found while doing research and poking around for this article, check out "Bite the Wax Tadpole."
copyright (c) 2009, Sue Copening