The Difference Between Good Word-of-Mouth and Bad Word-of-Mouth

As a Member of a PowerCore Team, you know a lot about your Team Members -- and about Members of other Teams. Often I tell people there are no secrets in PowerCore.

The Substitution policy creates a web of experience and that generates word-of-mouth. Good and negative.

And then there's gossip, which could be construed as word-of-mouth, so it's important, individually and internally, to understand the difference.

Consider the purpose:

1: Good Word-of-Mouth is for the benefit of the person speaking.

When I say good things about you it's because I'm proud to know you!

When I refer to you, I'm so pleased to be able to give my client someone they'll have a good experience with. We refer great people to our clients who need them, so our clients will think highly of us.

Scott Orr received his 5-Year Pin, and I asked him for the best thing he's gotten from PowerCore. Without hesitation he said, "The ability to refer great people to my clients. My clients call me because they know I have a great handyman, a great photographer. They don't ask google, they ask me! I'm more valuable to them. I like that."

When we say good things about someone else, it's because we're proud to know them.

Interesting, eh? Do you need to ponder this for a bit? Next time you hear yourself telling a good story about someone else, ask yourself, in your head, how telling that story benefits you. If it didn't benefit you, you wouldn't share the story.

2: Bad Word-of-Mouth is for the protection of the person listening.

Yesterday, a Member shared in passing that another Member stood them up for lunch. Why would they share this? (You would share it. Why?)

We share bad word-of-mouth to protect the people we like.

This Member was protecting me from making an appointment where I would be stood up. Imagine if I referred my client to this person and they stood up my client. (That has, sadly, happened.) The reflection is on me. I can be abjectly apologetic, but I will never repeat that mistake. The Member who shared wanted to save me the embarrassment of giving a bad referral.

My first memory of this was when Ron, a handyman, scheduled lunch with me at Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker. Matthews is what the contractors in Florida call a "hats on" restaurant. Ron and I enjoyed a meat and three from a red plastic tray; Ron kept his cap on. He looked at me across the table and said,

"I want to tell you why I will never be able to refer to William, the CPA on my Team."

I said, "Mmm."

Ron continued, "I'm in a profession that has a bad reputation for being on time, so I've worked really hard on that. I make all of my appointments for odd times, 10:17 or 2:40, and I'm careful to be knocking on their door at that time. I want them to know I'll keep my word, about everything."

I said "Mmm."

Ron said, "William walks in late every week, and starts every InfoMinute with the words, 'Sorry I'm late.' I can not take the risk that he would treat one of my clients that way."


Ron is telling me this for my protection. I'm not at the Team every week, there's no way I could know. Ron believes that I, too, value keeping my word about time, and he's sharing this to protect me.*

Bad word-of-mouth is for protection.

3: Gossip is to punish the person who isn't present.

Decades ago I was hosting a dinner party and ordered flower arrangements. They were late, wilted, and wrong. I called the florist in my crankiest voice and said, "There are going to be 20 people here for dinner, and I'll make sure they all know what a horrible job you did."

The florist took a beat, and replied, "I'm so sorry the most interesting thing you have to talk about with your guests is a complaint about the flowers."


I was willing to be cranky person in front of 20 people in order to punish the florist. She was wise enough to know that gossip hurts the speaker more than the person who isn't present.

George taught me this when I was researching a new washer and dryer and told him about the percentage of negative comments. "People who are happy," George said, "Don't return to the site. They've got a good product and they're doing the laundry. They aren't sharing that the tools work as expected." When people spread gossip, they want to punish the person they're talking about.

Whether you're the speaker, the listener, or the person being spoken about, consider that sharing is driven by the emotions of pride, protection and punishment.

Something to think about . . .