Why you should never badmouth your competitors

The NSDesign "3 b's"
In what is supposed to be the season of goodwill, I’ve seen a couple of examples recently of anything but, as business owners use the tactic of badmouthing their competitors in order to discredit them, presumably in the hope of gaining extra business.

Here’s 3 reasons why you should never badmouth your competitors:


1. It’s a sign that you fear them

If you’re confident in what you do, and you know that your products and services speak for themselves (or better still, that your own customers recommend you to others), then you don’t need to discredit your competitors in order to win more work. Doing that just makes you look scared of them, with a need to justify why you are better than them based on their flaws. Don’t point out the bad points of someone else – explain your own good points and USPs (unique selling points).

2. It’s a very small world out there

If you badmouth your competitors, there’s a very high chance that it will get back to them. It’s a very small world out there, especially with everyone being connected via social media. In some sectors, everyone quite literally knows everyone else, and your “private comments” about how bad company X are, will at some point find their way back to the Managing Director, and possibly the staff at company X. At that point, they’ll either retaliate, and start badmouthing you (and a flame war is never a good scenario for anyone), or they’ll realise the type of person you are, how two-faced you actually are (because you were nothing but nice the last time you spoke to them), and will bide their time about how, when, and to whom they will tell their story about how they “couldn’t believe she would act like that”. Long term – they win, not you. At best you’ve lost all potential collaboration opportunities with that competitor (and you never know when you might need them), at worst, you’ve spurred them on to do even more damage to you.

3. You’ve probably lied (or embellished the facts!)

The problem with people going down a route of negativity – is that we have a habit of getting carried away, and embellishing what actually happened. Often people who start badmouthing their competitors, end up telling lies, because the truth is far less damaging to them. The problem with lies is that you need to keep telling them or you’ll be found out yourself. Lies about other businesses can be very dangerous indeed; If the business in question finds out you’re telling lies about them, they’ll almost certainly want to set the record straight. Then there’s the whole risk of defamation. Something which is said in public, which lowers someone’s reputation. That’s usually what you’re doing when you go out to discredit your competitors, so be sure it’s factually correct, and not just lies to make an impact, otherwise badmouthing the wrong company will land you in legal trouble.


If the above 3 reasons don’t put you off, then just remember one final thing: “My Dad’s bigger than your Dad” might work in a school playground, but in business – you end up looking anything but business like. It’s bad form, it’s a poor reflection on you, and on the whole, people will trust YOU less (not your competitor). Because if you’re telling me *in confidence* about them, you’ll sell me out to someone else in a second, just for a short term win.

Be a good business, not one that wins through the badmouthing of others. And no – I won’t name and shame the offenders that inspired this post 😉