Service of Duh

September 8th, 2011

Categories: Accommodation, Attitude, Audacity, Collaboration, Communications, Courtesy, Customer Care, Customer Service, Duh, Politics, Public Relations, Responsiveness


I was surprised by the glitch in the planning of the President’s speech before the joint session of Congress tonight. When planning an event for a client, I check industry calendars and place a call to a trade editor or two to see if he/she knows of potential conflicts for a date in question. I can’t believe that the White House staff didn’t do such elementary research. Duh number one.

calendarOK, so they didn’t. I am equally surprised and disappointed that there is so little respect for the office of President that the Republican debate organizers didn’t defer and select another date. This isn’t a duh moment as much as a worrisome attitude for a country with huge problems to solve.  And everyone’s watching: Duh!

The cat’s out of the bag given our slip in a World Economic Forum listing. In 2008 we were first, Mathew Saltmarsh reported in “U.S. Slips to Fifth Place On Competitiveness List.” He wrote in The New York Times: “The weaker performance was attributed to economic vulnerabilities as well as ‘some aspects of the United States’ institutional environment,’ notably low public trust in politicians and concerns about government inefficiency.” Would you invest in a corporation with warring factions? Another duh: Why should people want to invest in this country if our leaders can’t even be cordial and cooperative about a date?

electricity1On another subject, some of the electric companies in the NY Metro area after Hurricane/tropical storm Irene–in Long Island and Connecticut especially–got a zero grade in both customer service and PR. Caroline Gatto commented about her friend and relatives’ frustrating experiences in these states in the “Service of Silver Linings” post. Some customers, sitting in houses without electricity for five and six days, couldn’t get through to their supplier on the phone. Others were unable to speak with a person. Routinely people in suburbs and exurbs lose electricity whether from weather or blackout. An effective crisis plan for an electric company to communicate with customers in such instances is elementary. Not having one is a duh.

In fact, all these examples illustrate disrespect: White House staff for anyone else, John Boehnor & Co. for the office of President and the electric companies for their customers.

Do you see a relationship between duh-like work and behavior and disrespect? Any duh situations you’ve noticed lately or that are memorable?


4 Responses to “Service of Duh”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    For starters, the ugly sounding and meaningless term “duh” is a lazy way to react to a given situation, and tends to ill reflect on those using it. Silence is way more effective.

    The Presidents speech is ill timed since it coincides with the official start of the football season, but if he keeps it short (an hour or less) he will not lose listeners. Todays prominent Republicans appear to be a loutish group. They may have done “O” a big favor by being rude, since it places one more bullet in the opponents arsenal.

    As to the electric companies, who gives a hoot about PR? The only good PR is to have the lights back on. Best PR is not to have them go out in the first place!

  2. jeanne Byington Said:

    I don’t follow football so my thoughts about which is more important, jobs or football, is prejudiced. Let the games begin…when the President has finished speaking.

    As for the electric companies, until the wires are underground, there will be power outages as tree limbs fall on wires. Call it what you will–communications, customer service, PR or something else–the companies need an efficient way to send smoke signals and information to customers. Nobody likes being kept literally and figuratively in the dark.

  3. Hester Craddock Said:

    The last presidential election in which I voted with any degree of enthusiasm was in 1956, when Dwight D Eisenhower was running, and as a dividend the distinguished Senator Prescott Bush was running for relection. In every election since then it has been having to chose between the least awful of the two candidates.

    Much of this is because of the “duh” factor. The politicians play silly games like “Gotcha.”
    In a more civilized country, the public would never have known of the President’s staff’s mistake.

    Read Jacques Barzun’s “From Dawn to Decadence.” He examines our diminishing civilization brilliantly.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You have a point. In this political climate, nobody has heard of helping someone save face. It’s always a “gotcha” game. An example: Mayor Bloomberg wouldn’t discuss the reason one of his deputy mayors resigned precipitously and said he was going to work in the private sector. Turned out he quit over a personal matter [his wife later said it didn’t happen but he was in jail for beating her].

    The Mayor was diced and sliced for lying because he didn’t disclose the real reason. He didn’t lie, he was protecting an ex employee’s privacy. People aren’t used to such elegance anymore. I’m surprised anyone wants a job in politics. Who is that perfect?

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