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Did it help that you were right?

DALL·E 2024-06-11 13.00.02 - A business professional at a modern office happy hour, engaged in a deep conversation with a colleague. The setting is lively, with people in the back

Recently, I was at a happy hour with a colleague who’s in sales. He shared a dilemma he was facing at work: he had sold a service that his engineering team couldn’t deliver, causing quite a stir. He said, “It said we delivered that service right on our company web page.”

I asked him a simple question: “Was it helpful that you were right?” He paused, taken aback by the question.

Does it matter to the client – who was bound to be disappointed – that he was right? Does it matter to his leadership team, who now had an angry client and a frustrated delivery team to deal with? Did being right fix the problem for anyone?

The answer to all these questions is "no. It doesn’t mean it was his fault, but perhaps he could have approached the situation differently.

In professional settings, we often face the choice between being right and being effective. While it’s important to be accurate and truthful, it’s equally crucial to consider the impact of our actions and words. Here are a few strategies to navigate this balance:

1. Empathy and Understanding: Put yourself in the shoes of your clients and team members. Consider their perspectives and how your actions will affect them.

2. Effective Communication: When discrepancies arise, communicate transparently but constructively. Focus on finding solutions rather than assigning blame.

3. Collaboration: Work closely with your team to ensure alignment between sales promises and delivery capabilities. Regularly review and update service offerings to avoid future misunderstandings.

If you’re ever in a position of choosing between what’s right and what’s effective, I hope you choose what’s effective more often than not. It’s not about compromising integrity or accepting blame, but about finding the best path forward for everyone involved.