Name This Oldie-but-Baddie Business Tune

Has this happened to you? Somebody does you wrong, and you take the high road, decide to forgive and forget; but even so, that person avoids you from then on? So you really don’t even have a forgive and forget option? It seems so ironic. And quite common.

Help me. I need a name for this. Double-cross double whammie? Twice-baked business mistake?

Here’s a true story. It happened so long ago that I don’t mind telling it. The guy in question, call him Guy One, was a distributor of Apple Computers in Latin America, and I was business planning consultant to Apple’s Latin America group. Once, over a couple of beers, I told him I was thinking of starting a business localizing major software products for Latin America.

He said nothing significant at the time, but within two months he’d started a business intending to localize software for Latin America. It was pretty much the business I’d described. So much so, in fact, that I learned about it when a mutual friend remarked on my having partnered with Guy One on that localization business.

I told him no, I hadn’t done that. He answered: “well then, Guy has done it on his own, and it sure sounds like exactly your idea and your basic plan.”

The truth is that I was miffed for about five seconds, but I let it go that quickly because 1.) I’d never really convinced myself that it would work; 2.) I was more interested in keeping the business I was already doing; and 3.) (Practicing what I preach) I didn’t own the idea. Nobody owns ideas, so if he did it first then more power to him. That’s business, and the idea belongs to whoever builds a business around it.

But from then on – and this is my main point here – Guy treated me like his enemy. I didn’t treat him that way, but – and note the irony – he did to me. I guess he was embarrassed. He started avoiding me, causing some business awkwardness in my consulting business. As soon as I guessed the problem I called him and told him that I’d heard he was doing the localization business and that I was fine with that; I wasn’t going to do it anyway and I would even be happy to help. I made it clear I didn’t care. But the business relationship never recovered. Hence, my use of the double whammy: first, a business double cross; second, a business problem you can’t solve by letting bygones be bygones.

Since that time I’ve seen it a lot of times, and in regular life too, not just business. The aggressor ends up avoiding the victim, causing the double whammy. I guess they don’t want to be reminded. But it is ironic.

Or could it be that his localization business failed?  That came a couple of years later.

Has this happened to you? Can you think of a good phrase for it?

(Image: 1000 Words/Shutterstock)

2 thoughts on “Name This Oldie-but-Baddie Business Tune

  1. Absolutely!! And you’re exactly right that it needs a name. This has happened MANY times to me in the past (probably because my business motto has always been ‘everybody gets one chance to screw me’. Seriously!)

    The fact is that in at leas 80% of the cases, after someone does me wrong and then avoids me, I’m just as happy to have that as the outcome, because now that we know what they are, I wouldn’t want to do business with them anyway. But it’s the other 20% you’re describing, and that truly is a tricky situation. My reaction in those cases has been similar to yours: going out of my way to make believe the incident never happened, and that everything is hunky dory. (By the way, I think that’s the best way to handle it. Rather than say “you screwed me, but I forgive you”, let the scum save face by both of you pretending that it never happened…)

    As for a name, hmmm. I think it has to be short and catchy. How about just “the double whammy”?

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