I’m usually trying to get creative with a sports analogy that I can tie to a social media or leadership lesson. Trust me, there will be a sports reference in this post, too. However, I’d like this post to be more of a discussion topic around double standards and unreasonable expectations. As a society, we’ve only gotten worse as we’ve become more digitally connected, “entitled” to convenience, and demanding of our “pound of flesh” when we feel wronged.

Here are some brief case studies to generate the discussion…

1. Double Standards – In Sports

The Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors play Game 6 of their playoff series tonight. The Warriors coach just called out the Nuggets as sending “hit men” after his star player, Stephen Curry. Ironically, he is on record a few weeks earlier as saying he would play “rough” with Curry if he was still in the league. I was at Game #5, and I’ve watched the other playoff games along with a lot of regular season games. Nuggets guard Ty Lawson gets mauled every time he goes in the lane, yet he rarely gets the call. He drives the lane aggressively, and he is built like a tank. He can take the abuse and still score, but why isn’t the foul still called? Curry frequently initiates contact, and then scores and gets the “and one” foul shot. This same double standard applies to every star player like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant. The refs, and the league, do not look through objective lenses when calling the game.

Double Standard advantage goes to the superstars.

2. Double Standards – In Professional Services

I am a principal for Mantis Technology Group – a software solution provider. When we commit to a schedule, or “service level agreement”, our clients will hold us accountable to that schedule. If we win a “fixed price bid” for work, our clients will hold us accountable for all deliverables for that price. Extenuating circumstances outside of our control are rarely considered. We made a commitment, and clients do not want to hear about our problems. I understand and accept those conditions.

Is it unreasonable for me to expect the same level of professionalism and accountability from my own service providers? As a home owner, I’m always contracting services for painting, remodeling, landscaping, etc. Most of my contractors have done exceptional work, and I would recommend them in a heartbeat based upon the quality of their work. However, timely communications and response times to inquiries, adherence to committed delivery dates, and acknowledgement that a “fixed bid” means you do not add expenses if the work is within scope – seem to be my unreasonable expectations. I frequently have to call contractors multiple times, sometimes to get the appointment to bid on the work, and I’ve had “no-shows” for appointments. I heard a sports talk show guy recently describe the same scenario with a landscaping company. He said “wow, I thought we were in a recession”. These people are turning away work, and they are not helping their reputations where good “word of mouth” is crucial for referrals.

Double Standard advantage goes to nobody because there are no winners in this situation…just disgruntled consumers who will not recommend the contractors.

3. Double Standards – Consumer vs Brands

Our Hecklers’ Hangout discussion with Shonali Burke yesterday touched upon our potentially unrealistic expectations for corporate brands. In our digitally connected world, we expect to express our frustrations on the social channels and review sites of our choice – and then have the brands find those comments (like needles in haystacks) and immediately respond to us bearing gifts and apologies. We can be impolite to the point of becoming abusive, yet we expect the brands to not become defensive or indignant. Instead, they must remain calm and resolve our issues to our complete satisfaction. And if they delete our abusive comments, then we can lead the trolls that will gleefully charge out from under all of the bridges with the promise of taking down a brand’s reputation in the very public eye – on the internet that never forgets. In fact, we can hold the brands accountable for every misstep of individual employees…and then we can have troll camps lying in wait to see what decisions are made. Did they fire the employee – Wrongful Termination! Did they defend the employee – Big, Evil, Uncaring Brand must be held accountable at all costs!! Now, where did I set my torch and pitchfork?

Didn’t our parents raise us better? Do unto others as you would have them do to you…If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all…

Double Standard advantage goes to the consumer – to the point where the advantage can be abused to take down respected brands.

Shouldn’t we give brands the same 2nd and 3rd chances we would ask for ourselves? Listen in to the Hecklers’ Hangout below to get more context for this discussion (especially around the 20:00 min mark).

Please do weigh-in on the discussion. Where do you see double standards? And if you are a brand that is subject to Double Standard #3, then consider checking out Mantis Pulse Analytics. We can’t alleviate the double standard, but we can help you find and measure those conversations!

Photo Credit: By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Ty Lawson) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons