Communication keeps you from going to the dark side

Anonymous
Feb 7, 2013

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):

http://ryxlord.blogspot.com/2010/10/i-find-your-lack-of-faith-disturbing.html

http://pipedreams.soup.io/post/89985939/I-had-friends-on-that-death-star

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...

Comments

Randy_Marsh

Unfortunatly, The hero of the new star wars series will be the Empire led by Buzz lightyear by enslaving the known galaxy with taxation and regulation and the rebellion will fail miserably due to lack of enthusiasm as the X-wing fighter pilots will be home playing PS3 while collecting their checks on a monthly basis.

Sir_Nerdsalot

Last I checked given time Buzz turned out to be a really friendly, devoted, and caring toy. The Empire is in a prime position to regulate and it should in the case of big business, which are sociopathic money grubbing machines that receive double the amount your X-wing fighter pilots do every month.

I would also have to double check that lack of enthusiasm. Seems like the people that get upset at Buzz are just like Woody...antiquated, white, and thinks that losing control of the toys means that it's the end of the toy room.

Randy_Marsh

"The Empire is in a prime position to regulate and it should in the case of big business, which are sociopathic money grubbing machines that receive double the amount your X-wing fighter pilots do every month."
Oh, Just like Disney then huh?

Contango

I woulda expected a larger explosion for the destruction of Alderaan.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I think Lucas Arts made it bigger in the re-edited versions. But what wasn't untouched in them, eh? Compared to when the Death Star exploded I guess it was rather lackluster.

Contango

The perennial problem with most SF: Lousy plot, good FX or the opposite.

thinkagain

Interesting read:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2...

Today business is the scapegoat for virtually every evil. Whatever the problem or crisis, “greedy” businessmen take the blame, and the solution is always held to be more controls, more regulations, more taxes.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

This article emphasizes the point of communication especially at the end. In the shop and on our Facebook I continually explain the objectives and purpose of the store as well as thanking those who choose to buy from us instead of elsewhere (eBay and Amazon for example can often "under bid" me let alone throwing in free shipping). That way when money is spent it is going to a known cause and I am compelled to continually work honestly for the business I am given.

Even in our niche culture a few of the manufacturers are seen as evil empires let alone broader entities like Wal*Mart. One thing I do every time I visit there is look at their donation board to see which contributions have been made locally beyond employment, access to goods, and property taxes. Profit is not a dirty word especially when you need it in order to do anything. Let's say I made $100,000 this year (oh to dream...). Net, in my pocket. That is a lot if I had nothing else at all to do in my life. But considering it would take ten years' worth of that profit to purchase ONE downtown building to expand (let alone any other expenses) and it gets dizzying but the need to profit is there for that reason. If I don't, I can't do anything else with my business.

luvblues2

Well, HZ, I am not a gamer nor really interested in sci fi, so I don't gather much from your analogies about those things and business. I intend to start my own IT business after a degree or two, so I will watch your blog, but won't have much to say.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I appreciate earning your readership, even if the medium is a bit (pardon the pun) alien. I hope to share non-allusioned advice in these blogs as well. For instance last week I provided links that you should explore if you wish to start up your business. I hope the general point of this one was still conveyed that communicating to your customers (or having them communicate with you) makes a mutual understanding so that they see why you will charge them $30/hour (etc.) for your professional IT service.

Contango

IMO, the continual advance by states to force web cos. to collect sales tax, plus the added expense of shipping costs may eventually work in brick and mortar's favor.

Darkhorse

What exactly is this guy trying to project?

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Presuming you are asking me what the point of this writing is after stripping out the Star Wars comparisons:

Many misunderstandings between X customer and Y business arise because of miscommunication or lack of any at all. As a business owner, often you are cast as an opposition force because of store policy, prices, etc. If you do your job well enough of listening and responding (or as a customer to let your voice be heard tactfully) then you can avoid negative reactions and both sides of the counter will realize the reasons for why things are is said and done. I hope that helps!

Don Lee

Metaphors, comparisons, illustrative passages, examples and other verbal gingerbread are used to serve the point you're trying to make, not replace it. In this case, the "cleverness" took over and the result is a blog post purportedly about clarity in communications that is itself unclear.
Say what you mean to say. Start with that -- and when you're done, stop.

luvblues2

Well said, Don Lee.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I appreciate the feedback. The balance of gingerbread to the actual point is what I strive to achieve. Every week I hope to become better and better as it is essential to the spirit of the blog that I always use story telling to convey the point as a bridge between two cultures.

Darkhorse

Earth to Hero Zone, come back down to earth.