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Slinging mud at others only gets you dirty

Billy Whitehurst for Progressive Cattleman Published on 22 September 2016
muddy hand

What is it about election years that makes everyone dread them? If you ask most people, they will say they get tired of the politicians slinging mud at each other.

We get tired of the childishness – adults don’t act like that, do they? Have you ever noticed that when you get in a mudslinging fight, most of the mud ends up on you because you went digging for mud to throw at the other person? Yet, only a little of what you throw actually hits the target and even less sticks.

Why does anyone sling mud at someone else? As an observation, it appears to me it’s because they have no real accomplishments to show in their own right, so to take the focus off of themselves, they want to make the other guy appear dirty. The ironic thing is the other guy generally only appears more credible the more mud that is thrown at him, especially when he doesn’t reciprocate the mudslinging.

I have seen this in all segments of virtually any industry, and we in the livestock industries are not immune to it. We’ve all heard it: “My bulls won’t break down like Johnny’s will” or “Don’t buy feed from them; they use cheap products that won’t work as well as ours.” I even saw lately where one stock clinician went so far as to recommend that another person “remain silent” when in reality the person he was encouraging to remain silent is much better credentialed than he.

We’ve all seen it, and we all hate it, so just don’t do it. If we really want to sell our products or services, let’s sell ourselves and our products and services based on their own merits rather than by trying to make someone else look bad. In the end, you will get a more positive response when you stay positive.

I don’t care if you are the best breeder, nutritionist, stock or horse clinician on the planet – if the only thing you have accomplished in life is to inherit a name or business, and you try to sell yourself by making your competition look bad, you will never be successful or place your business or products in an honorable light.

Now let me be clear that there is nothing wrong with inheriting a business or a well-known name. What I mean is you can’t sell what your predecessors did and you will only tarnish a good name and reputation if you don’t take the high road. It is amazing what happens when you view others in your segment of the industry as colleagues instead of competition.

When I come across a salesman (if you’re selling cattle for a living, you’d better learn how to market and sell them, or you won’t be in business for long) who uses mudslinging against his competition as his sales tactic, he or she just lost my business. On the other hand, I will return again and again to those who speak of their competition with respect even while selling me on their product (bulls, heifers, feed and philosophies, whatever the case may be).

Often they may even send me to their competition because they can’t fill my needs but the competition can. The next time I go looking for something, I go back to the first person because they are more concerned about my needs than their sales quota. That’s how you get a loyal following, whether you are selling services, education or a product.

Wisdom is proved right by her actions, and those who take the high road and stay positive win. In the end, when we promote ourselves, our services, our products and our industry with a unified front – even while we have different opinions and methods, we still hold to the same objectives – great things can happen.

So when you’re tempted to go bad mouthing someone or something, give yourself a minute to think about how much mud you want to stick to you through that process because you’ll end up wearing most of it if you don’t.  end mark

Billy Whitehurst
  • Billy Whitehurst

  • Extension Agent
  • Montana State University
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PHOTO: Photo provided by Billy Whitehurst.

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