tips for quality service
What’s More Important Than Being Right
by Carl Tompkins
Believe it or not, there is one subject within business that actually
outweighs “being right.” And that subject is what I’m going to refer to
as “how to be right.”
A major part of conducting business is making decisions. Often more than
one person usually is involved within this process. You, more than likely,
have at some point been a part of that process and had the right answer,
yet it wasn’t accepted. Why?
Accept the Best Answer
From what I’ve learned through study and experience, there are three major
reasons why people in business don’t accept the best answer in solving
a problem. The first up is “position.” Typically, someone higher up in
the organization must approve and often he or she does not, because the
solution comes from a subordinate; the value of lower ranking input is
discounted. Now, all bosses claim to be open-minded and to welcome all
levels of input. But in the real world, they value their own opinion as
being the better choice. Another factor coming into play within the “position”
issue is that the minds of bosses are often pre-occupied with conflicting
thought processes; there is too much of something else going on that inhibits
their ability to really concentrate on subordinate input and give it full
and fair consideration.
The second reason is due to incompetence. Yes, there are many around and
above you in business who know far less than you about a number of subjects.
I recall hearing a regional manager claim that “being smart has very little
to do in getting to the top of my organization.” His comment was in reflection
on how the company was hurt as a result of bad decisions being made by
“Make sure to protect all involved
parties from ‘criticism injury.’”
His experience was further validated through a study completed through
the University of Tulsa by psychologists Robert Hogan and John Morrison.
As part of their study on learning what caused people to be promotable
in business, they discovered that 60-to-70-percent of managerial employees
were incompetent in completing their job assignment. Most achieved their
position because they were “liked” by their supervisor and not for their
The final reason is due to the mode of delivery. Here businesses suffer
a bad outcome as a result of politics and pride. There are those people
who place more concern over your approach and choice of words than the
merit of your recommendation. It is pitiful to have to admit to this but
it’s the truth and must be considered.
Getting Past the Barriers
In order to break down any of these three barriers, two things must be
accomplished. First, do your homework and be prepared with the correct
answer or solution; be able to validate your recommendation. The second
is to make sure the “how” of being right is conducted the best way possible.
To be more exact in describing this portion of assignment, you must present
your recommendation in a manner that is acceptable by the target audience.
As I always say in an advanced selling skills course I teach, “it’s not
whether you’re right or wrong that counts, it’s your presentation that
creates the greatest influence.”
First, maintain a balcony perspective within the discussion, meaning,
keep the big picture in mind and do not become over-engaged. Remember,
your target is the right solution and the process you follow is critical
to hitting the bull’s-eye. The second tip is to share the wealth and credit
for solving the problem with as many of these who are involved as possible.
Here, and only in this situation, is “passing the buck” appropriate. In
our case, we’re passing the buck of credit. The third tip of instruction
is to always “earn the right” to present solutions, which simply refers
to attaining permission to share a recommendation. It’s pretty hard for
someone to be critical of you after they’ve given you permission to proceed.
Finally, make sure to protect all involved, or potentially involved, parties
from “criticism injury.” People in the workplace have a growing need for
security and you don’t want the process of being right to throw people
under the bus. When this occurs, people’s defenses go up and progress
grinds to a halt. Make recommendations futuristic in nature; not critical
of the past. When you follow the theme that you’re taking a given situation
and making it better for everyone in the future; everyone wins.
Put these tips to work and you’ll then be able to afford the time to enjoy
positive progress rather than stewing over what went wrong.
Carl Tompkins is the global marketing resources manager for SIKA
Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich., and the author of “Winning at Business.”
He is based in Spokane, Wash.
© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.