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Communication keeps you from going to the dark side

Anonymous • Feb 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Just prior to the destruction of Alderaan, the captured Princess Leia had this exchange with Imperial Governor Tarkin in 1977's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope:

Governor Tarkin: Princess Leia, before your execution, I'd like you to join me for a ceremony that will make this battle station operational. No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.

Princess Leia: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

Even in the context of the sci-fi fantasy classic this is a very politically true statement that we can apply "IRL" ("in real life" for the uninitiated). How many documents or constituent groups can we think of floating outside the window of the looming Death Star instead of the doomed planet? How many faces can we paste over the acting pair's originals to play the role of the innocent protector and villainous example-maker?

Fear not, friend reader, this blog isn't turning political. But the point needed to be made to bridge these same concepts from the easily identified public sector into the private. It is easy to conceptualize this topic when it is other people and other ideas. What about when you need to cast yourself in a role as a part of the ongoing story we each tell collectively? Not everyone can be Princess Leia no matter how flattering you think you may look in her costume from Jabba's palace.

As a business owner, one of my (and that presumably of your) daily struggles is that of control. Controlling budgets, inventory, and activities are obvious examples. Others that are often not realized are one's temper, emotions, and words. The intangibles. Especially, ESPECIALLY, when it comes to your own perception. Oh no, not what YOU see and hear. That's easy mode. We're talking about what others perceive of you. In many instances as a business owner, you must be prepared to be automatically cast as the Imperial agent. Did Tarkin have good motivation to do what he did? Probably. But, how did other people see the Empire's actions? It depends. Here are two views (links provided are meant to be centered on the images):



So how is it you go from a perceived Darth Vader to Obi-Wan Kenobi without looking like Jar-Jar Binks in the process? You must rely on communications with your audience. A movie enjoys the benefit of its audience's doubt or suspension of disbelief. After all, what kind of good movie would trick an audience into watching it? Well if you ever asked for a refund on a stinker, you'll know how it feels to have that happen (which hopefully hasn't been often). As a patron in or owner of a small business/community you share that same, intimate connection and dire consequences for not doing it right.

Emotionally we want to be the good guys as much as we can. However, your hand cannot remain open completely else nothing can be placed inside it that stays. So we begin to grip to retain, perhaps finding the lack of others' faith disturbing. Note that each finger-clenching rule and policy may cause customers to slip away. Thus we are left continually cupping to adjust and accommodate the most we can by active feedback.

The empire had a legal senate, yes, through which voices could be heard. Yet the rebels still came into existence as a force of extra-legal activity. I don't mean extra as in "extra minty gum" either. When gripped too tightly through money or emotion, people will go elsewhere or find a way around the obstacle. Hopefully you won't develop a light saber and blaster armed resistance movement to yourself/store but various social stigmas do occur. Cue any "horror story" about a place you or a friend had been to and received poor service, selection, or otherwise.

So, based on lessons from sub-pop culture as well as ones I continually experience and share with you: be sure to communicate with and share your ideas with the local shopkeep or customer base. On one side of the counter or the other, victory is won by consideration the thoughts of others mixed with your own. Then, an explanation the reasoning behind your expectations so others can understand while you may be "Imperial" you had friends on that Death Star...

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