When we concede to receive mediocrity, we are actually endorsing mediocrity. This is true of every relationship. Be it among a married couple, customer and service provider, parent and child, friends, people and state.
What am I talking about? Yesterday I called up a store to inquire about a product’s prices. Guess what happened? The guy who attended the call didn’t understand what I was talking about. He handed the phone over to his colleague and this guy also didn’t know what I was talking about. Next I was told to dial another number which I did and finally I found a person who understood what I was asking about. I’d been asking a fairly simple question. The product I was talking about was in stock at other branches of the same store and since I didn’t have time to physically visit each store I’d decided to gather the info by calling and asking. Anyway, what flustered me when I was going through the aforementioned experience was, that the store had publicly advertised their numbers without considering that customers might call asking for product information. When I mentioned this to my friend, she replied, ‘This is Pakistan. You should expect this.’ My thoughts on this response? Why? Why should I accept mediocrity? I understand that our acceptance criteria in a lot of cases vary according to situations. But the one I described above doesn’t fall into the same category. This is because, firstly, the store I was calling is considered one of the best stores in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. Secondly, they chose to share their contact information publicly, hence they should expect inquiry calls and should train their staff accordingly. I agree that we are a backward society and most local services or service providers are not refined enough to offer high quality services but when I’m interfacing with a local store that claims to be ‘one of the most respected and dependable supplier’ in its field, I expect top quality service.
If we map this experience to other relationships we’d see how well it fits there too. Every relationship involves give and take. If one party is giving something mediocre and the other party accepts that, the latter is compromising and hence approving mediocrity. They’re probably doing this in order to make the relationship work, but at the cost of what? Their happiness and satisfaction. And that’s a big compromise.
Sacrificing our own satisfaction and happiness is one thing but we’re also losing out on another important dimension. We’d never know what genuine satisfaction and happiness is because we’re setting the bar at the minimum. A point beyond which everything would seem exceptional. This means we’ll consider anything which is even marginally better as highly superior.
Solution? Instead of keeping the bar low, keep it high enough to be achievable while having room for raising it higher and higher. We must value our happiness and satisfaction and set a respectable threshold for it. Only when we set out to do this will we force others around us to do the same and truly ensure that we get what we deserve.