My Dishwasher

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Post By: Adam Turteltaub

My wife and I have been in our house for about 20 years, and last September the dishwasher broke. The repair person, to his credit, warned us that he could come out and take a look, but given the machine’s age there weren’t likely parts available. So, he advised we save the money we would have to pay him and instead buy a new one.

It was a great small example of business ethics in action since he doesn’t do sales, only repairs.

We purchased a dishwasher by the same well-known brand, and had it installed. All was well, until the company started bombarding us with emails and letters about extending our warranty. Almost weekly, it seems, we are reminded of the warranty expiration date and the wisdom in paying to have the warranty extended.

No doubt, they want me to think, “Why should I take a chance on this breaking?  Extending the warranty is a reasonable investment and can give me peace of mind.”

Unfortunately it’s not working that way in my case. Part of me thinks that this dishwasher is obviously a piece of junk and the manufacturer is telling me “Look it’s going to break as soon as the warranty expires. You might as well pay us a little bit now to avoid paying us a lot later.” And part of me also thinks “They know the thing isn’t going to break. They want to just get a bit more money from us because they know the dishwasher isn’t likely to break in the next few years.”

So what does this have to do with compliance? It’s a reminder that you need to look at your communications to see if you are inadvertently sending mixed or the wrong messages. While it’s true that life is a bit of a Rorschach test – people do tend to see what they want to see – there are going to be times when the message you send is not the message that people hear.

Sometimes it’s them, but sometimes it could be you.

To help avoid that problem, before you begin a communication effort ask two questions I leaned when I worked in advertising:

  1. What do people think now?
  2. What do I want them to think after they receive my message?

Then, when you finish the communication test yourself to see if your communication really will support the thinking you want.

Often when creating communications it is too easy to get lost in what you want to say, or find a “cute” approach that is fun to try. But what matters isn’t how creative your message is or whether it says what you wanted. What matters is what people hear and how it changes their thinking.

And, for the record, I’m following the advice of Consumer Reports and skipping the extended warranty.

**No wives were left doing dish duty in order to write this blog**