I left out an important guideline from my list of My Guiding Principles in my last blog entry. And that is:

Take Responsibility.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to take responsibility. And as is the case in Doing the Right Thing, the harder it is to take responsibility, the more important it is that you do so – especially when things get ugly. You cannot take the credit and not the blame.

There is nothing that I hate more than excuses. And there is nothing I admire more than full-disclosure. Taking responsibility when something goes wrong is more important than taking credit when something goes right. It is through taking responsibility for failures that I have fostered some of my closest relationships.

Things are always going to go wrong. That is just a fact of life. In business, at home, at school…stuff happens. I try my best to first maintain an attitude of self-reflection. What did I do to affect the situation? What could I have done better? How could I have created a better outcome?

You cannot take half-responsibility.  In other words, saying, “Yes, I know that I did <x>, BUT…” doesn’t cut it. When you take responsibility, there are no “buts”. Once you put in the “but”, you have acquiesced part of the responsibility. And if you do that, you might as well hold yourself harmless. In the world of customer service, there are no buts about it.

Next time you are in a position where you know you need to take ownership of a situation, challenge yourself to not say “but”. When you find yourself stumbling to that point, just be quiet. Don’t say it. Just take responsibility, commit to fixing the situation, and get moving. Your customers, employer, employees, colleagues, friends and family will have much more respect for you if you do.

Val Swisher
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