Hypocrisy isn’t always important, and it isn’t always true. First off, if you’re trying to change, you’re not a hypocrite. Also, if you admit you’re doing something wrong, you’re also not a hypocrite. You’re only a hypocrite when you pretend you’re blameless.
So, believing something is wrong and doing it anyway isn’t what makes you a hypocrite. You need to also be self-righteous. But that’s not the only accusation leveled at brands, politicians and people. People will call you all kinds of names. But in the end, if you have a voice, you can fight it.
Focus on the Good
For instance, Bill Clinton had all kinds of accusations when he was trying to get elected in 1992 against the first Bush. But James Carville, an adept political strategists, made sure that, with every accusation of misconduct that came his way, Clinton went on the offensive, changing the subject to the economy, which is something the people cared about.
The takeaway: you don’t have to be perfect to be effective if you stand for something bigger. And when you focus on one thing, it gets much, much bigger in people’s minds.
Truth is Your Best Defense
Unless you stop being effective enough to have enemies, people will call you names. And it doesn’t have to have a shred of truth.
For instance, I’ve heard university professors call an organization “racist.” In one case, I asked, and the professor couldn’t say why.
The only defense against this is a thick skin. After all, it would be easy to be held hostage by others’ opinions. And in the end, have the boldness to say that “I’m not a hypocrite, and unless you can prove it, don’t expect me to worry about it.”
In fact, if people are making accusations that are untrue and unfounded, maybe you can go on the offensive, depending on whether that makes sense strategically.
Diagnostic Value of Accusations
The key is to use what people say about you or your brand as a diagnostic. If it’s true, ask some questions about it. Make sure you understand how people see you. Do you need to make a change and publicize that?
We All Have Problems
Once we come to terms to the fact that we all have problems, it becomes a little easier to deal with some of these things. If you’re not perfect, and you know it, it’s harder for someone to get under your skin about it.
These principles will help you to deal with accusations of “hypocrisy,” “racism” or another weaponized term that people levy against you. Ask for proof, focus on the good that you do, use it as a diagnostic and let it go.
A sober, strategic approach will help you avoid taking your eyes off the ball to put out fires. Take a sober and strategic poitn of view whenever you see an accusation. Then deal with it.