Saturday, 15 September 2012

One Lump or Two?

It’s the little things that creep up on you that can whittle away at your integrity.  Like the time early in my retail career that I chose to overlook the tiny fracture my setter caused in the tip of a pear-shaped diamond.  It might never have been discovered, but I know it’s there.  Maybe as part of a 12-step program for recovering cheataholics I’ll track that client down and confess.

Golfers are famous for it.  Maybe it’s a mulligan (a do-over,) or maybe one for each nine-holes.  Or, turn a blind-eye to the rules and take one stroke penalty instead of two; three club-lengths rather than one.  If you don’t like where the ball’s sitting, you can just poke-it with your club so that it sits up in the grass better.  There’s nothing wrong with those practices on the golf course during a friendly round.  Hey, it’s only a game you play -- supposedly to relax.  As of late, I’ve resisted most opportunities to bend golf rules, and I often say, “I’ll take my lumps.”  I do it not because I’m a saint, it’s just that I want to be able to monitor my true progress.

In a jewellery store a lot can go wrong.  Communications with your designer or goldsmith can be misconstrued.  Maybe your handwriting results in the wrong special order showing-up.  You might have told the client that the diamonds were SI clarity, but subsequently realize that supplier uses I1s in those designs.

My friend Bob West is a fantastic goldsmith.  He once told me that the difference between a good and a great goldsmith, is that the latter can fix their mistakes.  If I had never revealed some of my mistakes, I don’t think my readers would trust me the way they do.  Consider every incident of things going wrong as a precious learning event – and pay attention to the results of fixing it.

Without fail, the best time to admit that there’s a problem and “take your lumps” is as soon as you discover it.  How you tell the customer about it may involve help from a manager or coworker. If you are open about your mistakes with your customers and handle the situation well, you will increase their level of trust.  When you’re honest with your clients and forthright with how you will fix your mistake, most (sadly not all) will be gracious and offer you a mulligan.  

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