Commonsense, is it dead?

by Iain Whyte on January 17, 2012 · 6 comments

I don’t know about you, but I do sometimes wonder if common sense is dead. On a recent trip through Luton airport, I was challenged because my plastic bag containing my toiletries was out with the prescribed size. There was nothing wrong with the toiletries. However the bag was too big. I was then asked I could either purchase a bag or lose all my toiletries. Bearing in mind I had travelled through 3 other airports that week with the said bag I was somewhat confused. Now, I respect the security at airports and have no problem with it, but when I asked the supervisor why did I have to change the bag, all I got was “these are the rules”, if you don’t comply we will confiscate your toiletries. I was rather annoyed to say the least and stated what could I do? The reply was succinct “if you have a complaint write to the authorities”.  With 15 min to catch my flight this did not make me entirely happy. I like so many people complied, bought a new bag for a £1 and proceeded to put the new purchased bag inside my bag, which apparently was acceptable!

All of this got me to thinking, where has commonsense gone? Now do you blame the supervisor? Do you blame the conditions in which he has to work under, or the management for his training? Which got me to thinking, does this happen in my business or in fact in many businesses out there? How do we train our staff? Do we allow them to use their common sense?

I was reminded of a great book I read some years ago, called “The Milkshake Moment” by Steven S Little. In this book he talks about overcoming stupid systems, pointless policies and muddled management to realise real growth. The last thing clients want to hear is “that is company policy” or “that’s not how we do business”.

We seem to live in an environment where people make it difficult to do business with them. When in fact people do business with people for very simple reasons. It would appear the world of business out there is making it difficult for themselves, in a time when it’s hard enough without putting up barriers.

So my message is very short and sweet, think about how you interact with your clients. Ask your current good clients why do they do business with you? The answer is often very simple and not what you thought. Remember there are many people out there offering what looks like the same product or service, but your clients have chosen to deal with you.

Once you have found out what it is, you will have clarity why others would want to deal with you.

Iain Whyte
Iain Whyte is considered an expert in word of mouth marketing through networking. Author of “Life Business & Speedboats” and international keynote speaker, he has helped many businesses across the world to achieve sales results. Iain’s passion is helping people to see that they already know all the people they need to in order to grow a business, showing them how to work existing relationships and refine their networking skills. He and Ewan Sturman are the joint authors of the Audio CD “How to get More Business through people you Already Know”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary D Lopez January 17, 2012 at 23:29

Yes, Iain, I’m afraid it is…

I met you at the BNI Conference in 2010, but missed connecting at last year’s Conference, unfortunately.

But I offer this obit I found last year on the subject. All my best and kudos to you for the insight to see this tragic loss in our cultures.

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has
been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since
his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn’t always fair;
and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more
than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but
overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy
charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended
from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for
reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job
that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly
children. It declined even further when schools were required to get
parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but
could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have
an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the religious organizations became businesses; and
criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took
a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own
home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to
realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her
lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded
in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his spouse, Discretion, by
his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now,
Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you
still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing…


Iain Whyte January 18, 2012 at 10:29

Hi Gary

I thanks for your comment and sharing really appreciate it. Hope all is good with you.




Alan Higham January 18, 2012 at 10:58

I heard this on national radio a couple of years ago, it is so true, and a very sad and accurate reflection of the world we have allowed to be created…


John Hart January 22, 2012 at 21:36

Poor old Common Sense.
As some one once said “Common Sense is the strength of the common man but the the problem is that the common man seldom has much of it.


Glen Cooper January 30, 2012 at 18:47

Hi Iain, great little post this. Reminded me of my 60sec blog post on personal branding as an engineer! check it out

I do believe common sense has done the way of the dodo for many of us… and like a virus, threatens to take us all down with confused looks on our faces!

Go for you, for point this out and thanks for sharing.


Iain Whyte January 31, 2012 at 14:56

Hi Glen, Thanks for your comments very much appreciated


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