Your Baby Is Ugly!

Holy Crap! That's one ugly baby!


It's a phrase you've probably never heard in your lifetime, and for good reason.


Why is that?

Because most people aren't capable of such outright, uber-direct, and brutal honesty (honesty-assuming the baby really is an ugly one).


Because people are inherently nice. We all want to be loved and treated with respect, so we usually do the same for others.


Even the meanies will wait until the parents are out of hearing range before turning to a friend to say, "Wow, that baby was frickin' ugly!"


The age-old saying seems to have had a universal influence: "If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all."


Now, translate this to the business world

Translate this to someone's metaphorical baby-a business idea, a system, a method, or a product.


Should the same behaviour apply?


Imagine someone tells you about their next business idea. You sit back in your chair and pretend like you're thinking about how to express your thoughts. In all honesty, you think the idea really sucks donkey! So what do you do? Do you tell that person what you really think, or do you just say something nice and change the subject, hoping they don't ask you for any detailed feedback?


What if this was someone's existing product? The creator may have already poured tons of blood, sweat, and tears into the project (after all, it is their baby). What do you do? Do you give them the awful truth or just shut up and avoid giving any feedback at all?


Maybe the product is actually pretty cool, and you think that it could really be big in the near future. But then they tell you the name and tagline for the product, and it's absolutely horrible. What do you do then? Do you shake your head and break the news, or let them continue on as planned and risk the venture becoming a total flop?


Side Note: Giving someone the truth doesn't mean being mean. It doesn't have to be an attack on the person or the idea. There are always polite ways to be honest and direct in communication. That's the beautiful poetry of language.


So what's the difference?

The difference between the literal baby an the metaphorical baby is that the real baby can't be changed (duh)! You can't alter a little human's appearance, so pointing out his or her ugly traits won't help anything, and just makes you look like a total jerk.


But when it comes to something that can be changed, and when constructive criticism may save someone from wasting even more time and money, then does it make sense to speak up and give your opinion? Would the creator not benefit from one more perspective? Isn't that how we make the best decisions, by considering as many points of view as possible?


But what about their precious feelings?

Perhaps you're afraid of hurting the person's feelings or causing them to lose all hope and quit everything to go back to their 9-5 job. Well, if a person can't take any criticism about their business, ideas, products, services, or brand names, then maybe they should be in a 9-5 job, kissing up to their boss and filling out their TPS reports.


Entrepreneurs need to have thick skin. They need to persevere. They can't get too attached to their baby, because it may very well be hideous, or have a terrible name. Entrepreneurs need to be able to take all the feedback they can get-the positive and the negative-and keep driving forward along the most appropriate road. If you tell someone that their baby is ugly, then they should be taking that opportunity to engage you more, asking why you think so, and what can be done about it.


If someone building a business brand runs home crying after their baby is criticized, then as far as I'm concerned, they shouldn't be an entrepreneur.


What do you think?


Robert Hacala is a Canadian brand designer making professionals be unforgettable. He's been helping solo entrepreneurs and SMEs for over ten years.


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