Why Doesn’t Everyone Like Us?

Those of us who are part of Goodwill know that we have a good organization that is made up of good people. And we know we have a mission that is appealing to just about everyone. We also know that well over 90% of the population is not only aware of Goodwill, but also has a favorable opinion of the organization. But there are still some people who don’t like us. Why? And what can we do about it?

I believe the people who don’t like our organization fall into four categories:

1. The uninformed or misinformed. Some people don’t like us because they don’t know enough about us. This category includes those who have erroneous assumptions that logically lead to incorrect conclusions about our operations and services (and sometimes about our competence and integrity).

To reduce the number of people in this group, we must seize every opportunity to provide facts that counter erroneous assumptions and constantly do as much as possible to increase public understanding of what we do and why we do it.

2. The aggrieved. These are people who have had a bad experience with Goodwill. I subdivide this group into two categories:

a. The pouters. These are people who don’t like a decision we made or an action we took, even though we acted responsibly and were fully justified in our actions. There’s not a lot we can do about those in this category other than ensure that the decisions we make and the way we operate are consistent with our values and based on sound criteria and sound processes. We also need to respond as well as we can to these kinds of concerns when they are addressed directly to us.
b. The justifiably aggrieved. These are people we have not treated well or with whom we have made a mistake. Obviously, we can reduce the number of people in this category by constantly improving our performance. And when we do become aware of a mistake we’ve made, we should correct it as quickly and fully as possible, do our best to make amends, and remember to say, “I’m sorry.”

3. The philosophically opposed. Goodwill has not historically encountered much opposition on philosophical or ideological grounds. However, in our efforts to provide opportunities to certain populations or address a particular social problem, we do occasionally encounter people who simply do not agree with our position or direction. While we might never win the support of some of those individuals, we can at least do our best to explain the rationale behind our positions and directions.

4. The jealous. The larger and more successful we become, the more we are likely to encounter individuals who are jealous or resentful of our success. There will always be some people in this category, and we can’t control that. But we can guard against adding to their number by treating everyone with respect, by not acting or appearing arrogant, and by not bragging.

Altogether, I suspect the total number of people in all of these categories is a very small percentage of the population. However, it is in the best interests of our organization to constantly strive to reduce the number of such people. This, in turn, will tend to increase the number of strong supporters we have and will minimize the amount of time and energy we must spend responding to complaints, criticisms, and accusations. While we should realize that, regardless of what we do, not everyone will like us, it is important for us to do all we can to avoid unintentionally giving anyone a reason not to think highly of our organization and its work.