Blame shifting leads to very short-term fix

Blame shifting leads to very short-term fix

Agribusiness
With emails, it is definitely better to pause for a moment and reflect before you hit the send button.

With emails, it is definitely better to pause for a moment and reflect before you hit the send button.

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IT IS probably safe to say everyone throughout their lives has told a few white lies or porkies. It may seem like the path of least resistance, but it can come back to bite.

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IT IS probably safe to say everyone throughout their lives has told a few white lies or porkies.

It may seem like the path of least resistance, but it can come back to bite.

I see a lot of blame shifting in banks particularly. With such big organisations, it is hard to determine who is right and who is wrong.

"I don't care whose fault it is, how are we going to fix it?" is my standard response.

I have learnt it is much better in the long run to fess up to mistakes, and fix them - this ultimately gives much more kudos. Everyone makes mistakes, and most (not all) people accept this and are quite happy to move on. In lots of cases the relationship is actually strengthened as a result.

Related reading:Lessons learnt in tough times vital for success

I was thinking about this topic after viewing an email exchange between someone from a large bank and another professional service provider involved in the transaction. It was interesting sitting on the sidelines watching this all unfold. I was not directly involved in the deal, but I know the customers.

What transpired was, I believe, the worst case scenario for both parties, as they had both shifted blame in an email to each other. It turned out it was another party altogether that had not passed on the relevant information.

Very embarrassing for both sides, I thought, as once both emails were sent, and other parties copied in, there was no turning back from there.

Nonetheless, the deal settled with no problems, so a disaster was averted. I have never met the two people sending the emails, so I don't know how they really feel about it. Maybe they both feel equally vindicated? I'm not sure.

It is really easy to push back without thinking about the consequences, particularly when someone is questioning your professionalism or integrity. We all have pride, and want to be seen to be doing the right thing.

Related reading:Simplest solutions often deliver most success

The vast majority of people I come across in finance and professional services are really good people. There is, of course, the occasional exception, but I haven't experienced this too often.

The harder route in these situations is to remain calm, and not take it as a personal slight. We don't know what pressure the other person is under on the other side. It is much better to step back from the situation, and apply reasoned logic to the problem. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

With emails, it is definitely better to pause for a moment and reflect before you hit the send button. If you feel the need to vent in an email, put it in draft format for 24 hours, then delete it. You will feel better, and no harm will be done to the business or personal relationship.

If it needs to be said, then by all means do so, but keep the communication to the point and professional. Better to have a written record of communications anyway.

If you step back in these situations while assessing what the best course of action is, from a state of calmness, you'll invariably make better decisions, with no long-term damage inflicted.

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