Counting Spoons

Nassim Taleb’s new book of aphorisms, “The Bed of Procrustes” has a high proportion of gems amid the clunkers.  We particularly liked this one: “Your reputation is harmed most by what you say to defend it.”  It got us thinking about the almost universal belief among companies that have damaged their customer relationships, advertently or inadvertently, that their apology should contain reference to their commitment to “trust.”    This, of course, serves no purpose except to remind customers over and over how extensively their trust has been betrayed.  The pronouncement “The safety of our customers is our highest value” emitted after an accident falls into the same category.

We recommend more matter with less art (Gertrude to Polonius).  By all means run advertorials describing the actions you propose to rectify defects.  Thank your customers for their loyalty, if appropriate, but never use the word trust.  As Emerson said: “the more he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”


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