Email I received this morning, and my snarky reply
I have been reading this thread with interest, and I finally decided to step into this conversation.
I have what may be described as a more philosophical view on what has transpired here so far. Read on only if you wish to listen to a different perspective on this. If you choose not to there’s no shame in that and no offense will be taken on my part. : )
Trying to polarize things as either "right’ or ‘wrong’ is, in my judgement, limiting (which I judge, at least in part, is what is going on here). I do it. It took me awhile to acknowledge that I tend to polarize things: see things as EITHER/OR, UP/DOWN, BLACK/WHITE. In this case: I judge that seeing Frank as either RIGHT or WRONG in how he handled things (both in his response to the initial communication, and in his choice to start this discussion thread) polarizes the whole situation. When I polarize things, I have come to the realization that it often (if not always) prevents me from seeing the full picture. In this case, as with anything, there is so much more that can be gained by looking at things from a different perspective. One possible perspective is to set aside right and wrong, and rather to look at this as an opportunity for all of us who responded to Frank’s discussion thread (including myself) to look at and honor our judgements and feelings about this whole affair.
I don’t feel I will be in integrity without stating up front at least one thing that this has this brought up for me: it reminds me how sensitive I can be, in this case, to the opinions of others; it is easy for me to take things personally. So, is that bad, or does it make me weak or immature? I don’t think so (I used to, though). It’s not good or bad, it is simply part of who I am, and so it makes me human. However, acknowledging my sensitivities ‘helps me’ (I am tempted to say, ‘is good’, but it is my goal at least to avoid that kind of black and white thinking). And the beauty is, the more honest I am with myself, the more integrated I am as a person, and, god forbid, the happier I am. : p
Later addition to attempt to explain why the following questions are relevant here:
These questions are sometimes referred to as, ‘the mirror piece’, being a critical part of a larger process, the goal of which is to help me better understand myself. It can also be view as: things I don’t like about the myself which I ‘project’ onto others. From this viewpoint I see others as a gift to me, as without them, it would be very difficult to see parts of myself that are commonly in shadow (thus, they act as a ‘mirror’ to me). So if you are not interested or are currently not in a place to contemplate some things that may be unpleasant, you may want to skip the following paragraph. Again, I trust that you know what’s best for you.
So, what are your judgements (some have already been directly stated in this thread, and some have been more indirectly voiced)? Do these judgements apply to you: i.e. does this behavior sometimes show up in your life? If so, How, When, with Whom? (however uncommon it may seem to you). Are you willing to accept these characteristics in yourself? Are you willing to forgive others for having similar characteristics and exhibiting similar behavior? (you may even want/need to forgive me for having the audacity to even put this out here!). btw, I DO NOT suggest that you answer these questions here, but instead just with yourself. As a final note on this, the goal of this process is not to change myself (unless you consider looking at things from a different perspective as change) or anyone else, it is simply about acceptance and forgiveness. If anything, it illustrates how little actual power/control I have over others, and how much true power/control I have over myself.
And Frank, I judge my opinion means very little here, but for what its worth I honor you for the courage I judge it took for you to put yourself out here.
I end in gratitude: I am grateful that I have the time (and the courage) today to explore this here, and I am grateful for all of you and your willingness to put yourselves out here. : – )
I agree with Gingko and Angrboda. Customers are not gods or God for that matter.
Should they be treated with respect? Yes, but this non-customer started out disrespectful. To me, those two points make all the difference. First, if so-called customers want respect, they should show it themselves. I have been trying to figure out where we crossed the line in this country where “customers” can use foul and degrading language to force a correction of what is almost always some unintentional error. It happens in restaurants, at stores, and as we see, online. Second, I think ScottTeaMan, Aisling of Tea, and others give the cranks, curmudgeons, and malcontents too much credit. This person was never going to be a 52Teas customer.
And, just so you all know, I have tried numerous samples of Frank’s teas. Some I like ok but for the most part I don’t prefer them. I do appreciate what he does, and always enjoy trying something new and different, but I don’t see a need to be rude about it. I doubt I am threatening Frank to say I enjoy unflavored teas more than flavored blends.
A customer with preconceived notions, like the ones stated, has already decided that he will not buy the product. I’m not convinced that all of my tea vendors sell tea from the same vendors, but I am sure that some do.
I think what is sad is that this person would probably not have lashed out had the conversation not happened on the internet. It’s easy to call a product “crap” when not looking the founder of the company in the eye. I don’t know why someone would have such vitriol towards a vendor just because it is not to their liking. I don’t understand when people just don’t move on and shop somewhere else.
Exactly. It amazes me the ways in which people use the internet as a way to say whatever they want to people since they can just hide behind it. If someone walked in to a physical store and said that, there would be more offers to call the police than offers for samples of the product.
The world can be a cruel place and it is nice to have a support group, friends, a safe place or what not to turn to and not feel the need to be on guard all the time. My safe place is a tea house down the street from me and a good book, I also have friends I can turn to that I can vent, complain, muse, whatever be it may and not feel judged.
I personally don’t like Franks " flavored crap", my own preference, but Frank is very good at what he does, he takes pride in his work, and turns out a quality product. It goes without saying that clearly he is a good business man, else he would not still be doing what he is doing.
Above all this is a community, Frank is a big part of it (he could always lay off the cheeseburgers :) ) many count Frank as a friend. It’s a shame that he couldn’t turn to the tea community, be among friends, relate an amusing antidote and not be judged for it.
I was thinking the exactly same thing Seattle. I think of Steepster as a community of friends to turn to, no matter what, first and foremost.
Very well said, thank you.
You know, the more I think about this, the more I see what I think is going on here. It all hinges on how we think of Steepster. DaisyChubb, it sounds like you see it in large part as I do: as a place where I can be myself (that is why for all of us whom are not owners, anonymity is so important). I think the question is: is this an appropriate place for the owners of tea businesses to be themselves? Evidently, this is a point on which many of us disagree. That’s OK. I hope we can all agree to disagree, so-to-speak.
And when it comes down to it, whether or not this is a place for owners to vent or a place ‘to be true to myself than cow to the expectations of a few,’ as Frank so well put it, or whether this is a place where we have to watch our P’s and Q’s and play nicy nicy, is a judgement; there is no RIGHT or WRONG answer. We all have the freedom to chose how to best conduct ourselves. Now, there are consequences for any decision we make (and trying to know what those consequences are gets tricky because who knows with certainty what the consequences of our actions will be).
Frank may make a few new customers after this, and he may also lose a few potential customers (I personally have more admiration for him than I did before all of this). C’est la vie! Besides, life (even as a businessman/businesswoman) is not all about pleasing every customer, now is it? No one ever did anything worth mentioning without a least a few people choosing to take offense. Which reminds me, I once heard something to the effect of, much more offense comes into the world by those who take offense, rather then those giving offense (and theoretically, it may very well be argued that there is no such thing as giving offense, anyway).
So for me, rather than second guess myself every time someone doesn’t like what I do I’d rather BOTH: 1) listen to the viewpoints of others, AND then, 2) make up my mind on what I think is best, and then act on it (which means trusting in myself, and in the Universe, not at all easy to do). After all, it’s my life. And I only have one life to live. : – )
You know what, though — everyone judges others, to some degree. Some are reserved and keep their judgments to themselves; others are more vocal and confrontational. And everyone cares about what others think of them, whether they want to admit it or not. Right or wrong, there will never be a perfect world (much less internet community) where people can let it all hang out without fear of being judged.
Infusin_Susan: I agree with you.
Philosophical perspective follows, or the ravings of a madman, take your pick.
For me, the interesting thing is I have found if I really know who I am, and I accept all of my little character defects—for lack of a better word at the moment (a process which is ongoing for me as its not an easy task, and I will likely never finish it), then I personally have little to no fear of being judged (hard to believe, but it is true). I think basically what is happening here, which happens all the time in community, is that ‘buttons are being pushed’ (which is another way to describe what happens when things about ourselves which we hide/repress/reject/feel shame about/are in shadow are pointed out to us by others). So, yes, in that sense there will never be a ‘perfect world/community’ if we don’t accept ourselves for who we are (that means the ugly parts (shadow) as well as the awesome parts of us (gold)).
The good news is, if I do accept me for all that I am (as best as I am able, at least), then the world is basically as ‘perfect’ as I need it to be. Because then neither you, nor anyone else in the big wide beautiful would of ours, need to change for me to be happy; I acknowledge in complete humility that I have no control over others (I do have influence over others, but that’s a tangential discussion) AND I realize that I AM in complete control of my life. Oddly enough, this perspective is still hard for me to believe, as I have just come to this very recently after trying to change the world for most of my life up to this point; but as of this moment at least, I believe I am in control of my own happiness.
This has been a monumental Revelation for me, and I invite you—and anyone else who chose to read this—-to consider it’s implications for your own life too! Life, is indeed, beautiful! : – )
I agree with Infusin_Susan. And, frankly, a large portion of his business probably does come from this site, so while he may hope to be among friends, he’s also among customers/potential customers. I didn’t see this post as lighthearted and playful at all and while I understand the desire not to try and change this person’s mind, I still am completely failing to see the point of this post. But then again, I’m not Frank’s intended audience, as I don’t care for his teas. Potential customers are going to see this post and judge him by it, however, because he is running a business. Some things are better left to more private forms of communication.
Business owner + private email + public forum DOES NOT = good business practice.
You didn’t have to lower yourself to that level. You really could’ve ignored that email. You even admitted that you were defensive so not sure how this is light humour.
Well, I suppose as polarizing as this issue appears to be, this is the point where I should delete my post to avoid upsetting anyone else. I guess if I was a good businessman, that is exactly what I would do. But, as some of you have pointed out, I must not be a good business man. At best I imagine I will always be a part time accountant who blends teas on the side. I’m going to leave this up and I guess if it upsets people, it upsets people. I would prefer to be true to myself than cow to the expectations of a few. I suppose if that means some folks want to be upset with me, I’ll just have to make my teas that much more irresistible and hope that in the end people will judge me by the product I produce and not my PR skills and/or apparent lack thereof.
After reading this thread (and working in a profession where I deal with similar unfounded nasty attitudes), I am going over to your site. I think that if someone sends a clearly nasty email (sorry people, this person was never a “potential customer”), they have no right to expect a polite response in return. And quite honestly, I have a lot more respect for someone who stands up for themselves than someone who kow-tows to rudeness and offers free samples!
I still stand by my above statement (even though email may not be 100% private). If I owned a business (any business), I would NEVER post email in a public forum. IMO, it just doesn’t appear professional. Nothing against Frank-or his business-it just seems petty to me. OK I’m done…….