I remember the night I deleted my Yelp review.
My husband and I had gone out to dinner on a Friday evening and were treated horribly by the hostess and had mediocre food (and that is being generous). Livid and feeling incredulous over-spending money for such a bad experience, the next morning I whipped out a scathing review. “That’ll teach ‘em!” I thought.
I felt vindicated.
For about two minutes.
Then I felt horrible.
The thing is, I teach the importance of driving constructive action. I teach the importance of stepping into another person’s shoes. I teach others how to focus on making a positive impact.
All the things I teach, I had ignored. Boo.
I felt it. That icky feeling that you get when you know you’ve said something you wish you wouldn’t have said. When you’ve crossed your own line. All day long, I couldn’t shake it.
Now, did I have the right to share my experience with all the Yelp readers? Sure. Some might even argue that I would be doing a service for all the people who might potentially dine at that establishment. After all, I’ve personally come to rely on reviews to make my own buying decisions.
But here’s what I also know to be true:
- The restaurant is located in a small town. There aren’t hoards of potential customers who might be willing to overlook a bad review.
- My reactionary one-star rating would take the average rating down considerably (indicating that my experience may have been an anomaly).
- Bad reviews, like the one I put out there, could potentially put a small business out of business.
- The hostess could have been having a bad night. She could have had personal issues that she wasn’t dealing with effectively. I could have triggered something that had nothing to do with me. The hostess, after all, was human.
- The hostess could have triggered something in me that made me over-react to the situation and experience it far worse than it actually was. I, after all, am human.
- I know that my review wasn’t consistent with the person I want to be in the world. I was out of integrity with myself.
When we do something, no matter how justified, that goes against the core of who we are, we feel it. We can’t escape ourselves. We know when we can do better.
As human beings, we react to the world around us, often without thinking. But knowing what we stand for, from a values and purpose perspective—knowing our true selves—makes it possible for us to course-correct. To clean it up. To do better. To try something different. More constructive. To cultivate our best selves.
Because there’s one thing I know for certain. Your “best self” doesn’t feel icky.
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