Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Can't Care, Don't Care, Won't Care

"Don't take this so personally," my wife Karen always tells me. And of course she's right.

In the past, when employees would become Vampires or Aliens it used to really bug me. How could they do this to me when I trusted them and gave them opportunities to help us and do good work? I would say to myself. Then I realized it had absolutely nothing to do with me.

But when clients do me wrong, it's a bit harder to shake off. Especially when said clients are supposed to be cooperating with the mission of Theater of the Word, working in some way to spread God's message.

But we get shafted by our Church-affiliated clients even more frequently than we get shafted by secular clients.

And I've noticed a pattern. I think it applies to all of the business world, secular or Christian.


First, there are the clients who are simply incompetent. They drop the ball on projects because they simply can't run their businesses in any systematic or effective manor. They mean nothing personal by this, they simply can't care, "care" meaning to exercise care, and "care" also meaning the gift of good will that is caritas: care, love. When you can't find your desk under the clutter, you can't find the piece of paper that is the key to the whole project and that was due three weeks ago. And I would guess General Incompetence ("can't care") accounts for 90% of all failed cooperative endeavors.


A less common, but more disturbing situation, is when you enter into a relationship with a client who simply doesn't care. They have the competence to cooperate with you and make your project a success, but they care so little about what you're doing, about quality, and frankly about you, that they'll give-a-crap only when it suits them. This is troublesome, until you realize that the Don't Cares don't care for anybody who works hard for them, not just you. The best way to keep the Don't Cares out of your business: charge enough to make them either not hire you or else take an interest in their investment. Charging too little will always encourage the Don't Cares.


These first two examples are passively aggressive. This final type, actively so. These are the people who take an active disliking to you and who deliberately try to hurt you or sabotage you. Their lack of positive care is willful - "non serviam", and "non co-operatio" - I won't serve, and I won't cooperate - not because I can't or I don't but because I won't. This happened to us early on with Theater of the Word, when someone at a diocese booked us to do shows, and then the liberals who run the diocese found out and made a point not to promote the shows, to provide no technical support, and to turn the heat off in the seminary where we were staying (a seminary that was otherwise empty, the diocese having generated no vocations for ages), thus trying to freeze us out. I am not making this up. Most recently, the Kennedy Catholics managed to cancel our pro-life tour in Massachusetts, even after contracts had been signed and deposits paid on the shows.

The thing is, these three types of bad business relationships are both not personal and personal at the same time. By the time the resistance gets to be third stage "won't care" variety, you see the nasty little narrow faced gremlin behind it, and you realize that yes, Virginia, there is a grinch, and he takes a very strong disliking to you and to the little bit of good in the world you're tyring to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This stuff happens in my line of work too. Patients are like that.

Dr. Eric