The Angry Mango Man (आम आदमी): Do Politicians Listen, Give Back or Run Away?

A few months back I attended a corporate training program on Customer Engagement Skills, and one of the things they taught us was how to deal with an angry or upset customer.

The theory says that there are typically three reactions one has for an irate customer. The first one is to run away – avoid him during the anger, get out of sight – somehow try to evade the situation and hope peace returns. The second one is to give it back – get back with a vengeance, tell the customer how he is at fault and you are not responsible for all his problems, hoping that he sees his part of the problem and shuts up. The theory says – both these ways don’t work. On the other hand, they mostly aggravate the anger. The theory says – the third way is to hear him out, just listen patiently, let him vent the anger, and then slowly try to understand the source of the anger – whether it is you or something else, and rationalize if possible. And importantly, if there is something to fix, fix it. This is the tough choice to take, but it works generally.

But that’s the theory. In practice, most people cannot but restrain themselves from instinctively going for the first or second one. So in theory, every organization says, customer is king, and when an angry customer turns up in practice, most of them either run away or give it back rather than listening him out.

So what’s the point? Well like most organizations, the government keeps talking all the time about the Mango Man – the आम आदमी, but does little when he is angry. Of late, there have been multiple instances to indicate that the Mango Man is Angry and pretty badly so. And most of the anger has been vented at the political class. And like most organizations do, the government either runs away or gets back.

Here are a few instances when the Mango Man has vented his anger, and the government has been either running away or giving it back:

The Mango Man is angry that they ask him to be resilient in the face of terrorist attacks. So the PM and the Home Minister got chappals thrown at them. Not a good thing. But in response, they took a high moral ground and forgave the thrower. Run Away.

The Mango Man is angry because the inflation keeps going up. The Agriculture Minister got a slap. The entire political class says this is anti-democracy. Give Back. The Oil Minister got the flak when petrol prices were raised and the Finance Minister got it when interest rates were raised. So they reverse the price rise a bit sometimes. Run Away. And talk something about fiscal deficit which the Mango Man does not understand. Give Back.

The Mango Man is angry because of the corruption in the system. And demands a strong anti-corruption law. The government got the Anna Hazare episode. Again the political class says either they are working on it as per parliamentary procedures, or says this protest is against the constitution. Give Back as well as Run Away based on what works at that time.

So, the Mango Man is Angry. At multiple things. Inflation. Corruption. Economy. Terrorism. Perhaps at his situation. Perhaps at not being heard. And is venting it at the politicos – rightly or wrongly. An angry customer can shift to a competitor. I don’t quite know what will happen with the Angry Mango Man. All I know is that it is not a good thing. But then I am not a politician.

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