New Zealanders are nice, friendly types. We are people pleasers. We should be ashamed of ourselves. Our fear of confrontation is making the world a worse place. Our lack of honest feedback is costing the country billions. We need to be meaner.
I don't have any stats or studies to back this up. Those assertions are really only there to keep you reading and lead you to this vaguely related personal anecdote about soup.
My 9-year-old son Barry and I ordered the "Old Fashioned Home Made Chicken Broth" at a restaurant last week. Few things in the world are better than hot soup on a cold day. That's why we were so disappointed when two bowls of salad arrived. Salad that on closer inspection turned out to be soup without any liquid. It had the chicken and vegetables - just no juice.
Someone in the kitchen had failed to pour the soup into the soup. I guess they have a basic mix that they add different bits to on order. It made me sad. It made me mad. So when the waiter came up and asked how everything was, I did what every good Kiwi does. I told him everything was great. Phew! Dodged an awkward confrontation.
This is not only wimpy behaviour, it's also a lie and it's damaging our businesses. How can people improve if they don't receive honest feedback? Good customers say what they really think.
I've talked about my non-soup, soup to hundreds of thousands of listeners on the Matt and Jerry Breakfast Show on Radio Hauraki and now I am writing about it in the country's biggest and best newspaper. But saying it to the face of the person who ran the restaurant was beyond me. What a back-stabbing coward of a man.
Although I may be an extreme example, it seems most Kiwis have a bit of this mentality. Easier just to move on with your life. Never go back, just fume and slag off the place to everyone you know. A more honest and helpful approach would be to offer honest feedback at the time.
Constructive criticism face to face is a gift. A one-star review and a one-page slag off on Yelp, TripAdvisor or Google is the wimps' way out. No one believes an online review. A restaurateur will just assume you are an insane person. But telling a cook face to face that they forgot the soup in your soup can really make a difference. A calm assessment from a clearly reasonable consumer will bring about change. Maybe even keep them open.
A friend of mine is doing business in Australia at the moment. The feedback on the first work he submitted was "not good enough mate, losing interest". So he went back and worked harder. Two weeks later he resubmitted and earned the feedback "love it mate, much better, let's move forward with this".
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Your average New Zealander would have told him he liked it even though they hated it, then spent six months ignoring calls, killing the project slowly without confrontation. Which is ultimately much crueller than a short sharp dose of reality at the start.
New Zealanders are so lovely and nice. We are good looking and friendly. We are also wimps when it comes to complaining. We backstab instead of confronting.
We need to change. Let's all do our bit for tourism, national standards and soup. If something isn't good enough have a quiet word. Help your fellow New Zealander out by pointing out their faults.
You could start with this article. If you think a man rabbiting on for 700 words about soupless soup isn't up to scratch. Have a quiet word. I might do better next time.