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4 Reasons Brands Shouldn’t Worry about “Hypocrisy” and other Accusations

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.