Choose Your Battles

Choose your battles

As a young lad of 16-years, with long hair and a loud car – I was a natural target for the police officer.  Driving by, minding my own business and breaking no laws, the State Police Trooper nonetheless pulled me over.  After going through my license, registration, and finding no violations he said, “your mufflers are too loud-replace them!”  To which I responded, “They are legal, cherry bomb mufflers, I just put them on my car.”  He paused for a moment and said, “I said they are too loud and replace them!” “Yes sir, I’ll take care of that right away,” was my Eddie Haskell response.

This was a silly argument for me to engage and it could have only caused me problems.  This officer pulled me over and come hell or high water, he was going to come up with something with which he could slap my hands.  Why argue with him?  What did I have to gain? There are arguments or disagreements that don’t amount to a hill of beans, yet we pursue them as if our lives depended on them.  When pride gets in the way it can ultimately end up sabotaging the harmony of the office, the projects on which you are working, and your relationships with your clients.

For example, on a few occasions I have shown up for an appointment with a client or a prospect only to find that they were not there.  When I follow up with them, I typically will say, “I must have written the wrong time in my planner.”

Now, I can honestly say that maybe once in my many years in meeting with clients has it ever been my fault.  But do I want to get in to an argument over this?  Of course not, I’ll take the heat and reschedule.  Ultimately, the purpose of this is to establish or further the relationship.  Usually, the client is very apologetic and very accommodating in rescheduling the meeting because they typically know that they dropped the ball even if they choose to defer the blame my way.

The same principle applies in the office.  Why cause a big argument over small issues that don’t affect either the quality or timeliness of the product?  A pretty good litmus test is this: Are you standing up for the integrity of your work product or are you trying to show someone how right you are and how wrong they are?

I never did replace those mufflers; in fact, they were on the car when I sold it a few years later.  I was right and the officer was wrong, but to argue the point would have been foolish and would not help me achieve my goal, which was to get out of there without a ticket – keep your goal in mind before you engage in a verbal battle.

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