retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email from an MNB reader yesterday:

I have never, ever sent an email to a blogger. But something has been bugging me, and I wanted to mention it to you since you read your emails and really listen to your readers.

It was triggered by this comment in your post today:  “The first one was from a reader who said that while she likes MNB, she feels that I spend too much time focusing on big companies and not enough on smaller companies. Now, I'm not sure that this is true ... I like to think that I really spend most of my time focusing on the big innovations that grab my attention, but I take seriously even the criticisms I disagree with.”

Have you noticed how often you say “I’m not sure this is true”? I’ve been following your blog about two years now, and it’s more often than I think you would imagine. I am sure that I am especially sensitive to your response, because I am dealing with the exact issue with my 16 year old daughter.  Instead of saying what you say, she says “That’s not true” when someone in our family or one of her friends has a complaint or we try to give her constructive criticism. If you think about it though, the exact wording doesn’t matter , because it’s the same attitude. She is incredibly defensive, and can’t seem to realize that if someone has a complaint, they are sharing their “reality” with her. Here is the parallel:  In the above instance, if the comment above is the reader’s reality, then it is “true” to her.

Instead of “I’m not sure this is true” what you say above comes across as “she was wrong because …”

There have been a number of other instances where you have shared criticisms or concerns from readers, and you often say “you are right”  or “thanks for sharing this, I am rethinking my position” … but  more often you say “I’m not sure this is true” when in my mind you are really saying “you are wrong because …”

Anyway, I may be totally off base, but if you want to look back through your archives, see if you can substitute the two phrases and see my point of view. If you agree, then think about the message it is sending to your readers – that your first inclination is to be defensive and only when you agree with the reader completely will you say the reader is right or has possibly changed your thinking. It’s a tough nuance for my 16 year old to understand, but I can tell you that my husband and I are constantly trying to help her grasp the fact that her peers are tired of her philosophy of “I’m right and I don’t care what you say.” Because the bottom is: that is how the attitude comes across. (In her defense, she’s an awesome person with a great heart, but she just can’t read people well and we’re trying to help her since that leads to some tough social situations. As I said, it’s top of mind for me so I may be reading too much into your comments.)

On a separate note, I really value your insights and I learn a ton from reading MNB regularly. I enjoy the mixture of serious information, humor, and some social commentary.

Finally, I know you sometimes post your readers’ comments. I can’t imagine that you would post this, but if you do, please post mine as anonymous. My company is very sensitive to what we share via email and online, and while I really don’t think this would upset anyone, I’d really love to keep my job 🙂

I have to be honest here. I am so tempted to simply respond by saying that I'm not sure that what you say is true...

But I won't.

I'm not sure it is a good thing or bad thing that I, a 61-year-old man, have just been accused of having the emotional/intellectual sophistication of a 16-year-old girl. But since you clearly feel a great deal of affection for your daughter, I'll take it in the spirit in which it has been offered.

I am also not entirely sure how to respond to this. I think it goes without saying that when I express an opinion, I think I'm right. (Most people do.) When people disagree with me, I think they're wrong. But, where I like to think MNB is different (and, quite frankly, has made me more tolerant and open-minded) is that civil discourse is the rule, and I try to see all sides ... and give people who disagree with me plenty of time and space to express their opinions. Sometimes they sway me, often they do not ... but I try to create an environment for legitimate discussion.

I don't think I'm overly defensive, but maybe that's just me being defensive.

Perhaps I need to say that "I disagree," rather than suggesting that my truth is the only truth. I'll try to be conscious of the difference, because the last thing I want to be accused of is epistemic closure.

Regarding Amazon Prime Now, MNB reader Joe Davis wrote:

I have to admit that I am surprised how often we use Prime Now in our household, after originally viewing it as more of a novelty or service statement.  It has killed the “can you swing by the store and grab X on your way home” trip.  Here in traffic-insane Atlanta, that trip on the way home can add an extra 20-40 minutes depending on the store location and traffic situation.  So instead, we fire off an order to Amazon and let them figure out the 1-hour logistics instead of us.  Totally worth it.
I’ll add a sprinkle more of flavor to this.  I just attended Kantar’s Year End Forum the other day where they were talking about online behavioral impact, and their Chief Research Officer ordered a Fire TV Stick ($29) from the main stage to raffle off later in the day – arrived at the hotel conference center a little over an hour later in a neat little bag.  Point made.

In so many ways.
KC's View: