If you recall, my New Year’s resolution was to read one book a month. Going into the month of May, I have read 8 books, and I am on track to complete 2 more by June. One of the books I am reading now is “How to win friends and influence people,” by Dale Carnegie.
Almost every time I look up “best business books to read,” this book is listed. I can finally understand why. Carnegie’s masterpiece is an easy, fantastic read. Originally, it was written in 1936. Decades later, the principles of human behavior listed in the book are relevant today.
The principles that Carnegie covers are not difficult to digest. Honestly, I believe they’re common sense. The problem is that we tend to be so self-absorbed and self-promoting that we neglect others around us.
Carnegie’s principles revolve around the “other person.“ He aims to get individuals to speak less, and listen more.
One of the lessons highlighted revolves around being “right.” It’s from Part 3 of the book, Principle 2: “Respect other’s opinions, and never say ‘You’re wrong.’”
How many of you readers enjoy being right? I going to venture a guess that a vast majority of you enjoy being right. Especially in today’s day in age, we are fortunate enough to be able to settle disputes with search engine queries. It’s so easy to prove someone is wrong.
I admit, I am one of those people. I am the person who is quick to type up or voice a question into my phone in order to prove that I am right and the other person is wrong. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. I admit that I enjoy being correct.
Since I have confessed that I am “know it all” (I’m trying to learn how to not be one), here’s a story about how I was right, and how it really made me look as a professional.
In my current role as a sales consultant, it’s my core responsibility to handle in-depth product demonstrations for the customers. As part of the sales team, my sales reps and I leverage implementation partners. They are the individuals who work with the customer to set up the application to fit the customer’s needs.
On one such call, the entire sales team agreed to avoid presenting certain features to the customer. These functions would greatly increase the product pricing and implementation costs. We feared that we would lose the deal if we went with this approach.
On the demonstration, I covered the core features and functions of the product that we deemed relevant to the customer. I made sure to specifically avoid the “taboo” features that could be detrimental to this deal.
After the call was over, the implementation partner sent an email saying:
So profiler and engage [the product features we agreed NOT to show] were shown, as well as a real-time integration. Not what we talked about, so a little misled here
Was the partner incorrect? He was 100% wrong. The sales rep I was working with corrected him and pointed out that he was wrong in a nice way. I could have left it at that. I should have left it at that.
I was right, he was wrong
What did I do? I proved I was correct! That showed him! This person was wrong and criticized my work without any validity. Of course I could not let that slide. I sent two more emails to prove that I was right and he was wrong. Hooray, I won!
Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. Looking back at the situation, I fully understood that my assertion of correctness was handled poorly. I acted out of vengeance. I acted immaturely. In the grand scheme of things, this misunderstanding was insignificant.
Luckily for me, the implementation partner exhibited better people skills than I did.
What could have happened was that I could have tarnished my reputation, been labeled as a “know-it-all”. The tech space is smaller than you think. Your brand goes a long way.
In my life, every mistake had reasoning for that unfortunate decision. Big, small, or profound; there has always been a “Why” for me.
In this case, it was rooted in my insecurity. I felt as if this person was attacking my brand. He attacked my quality of work and accused me of a mishandling the demonstration.
As a Sales Consultant, the demonstrations are my time to shine. That’s my opportunity to showcase our products from the lens of the customer.
I take a significant amount of pride in my presentation skills and demonstration abilities. I care about the quality of my work. For the partner to express a wrong observation, and blame me, infuriated me.
I believe that you should control whatever you can, and not worry about things you cannot. In this scenario, I could not control the reaction of the partner. I needed to control my own reaction to the situation.
So I did, but I steered my ship in the incorrect direction. I responded childishly because I was insecure. I questioned whether my demonstration was inadequate and unclear.
For the future, I will take a step back from the situation and be clear with myself about how someone else reaction makes me feel. Then, when I’m more level-headed, respond appropriately.
Readers, I know you like to be vindicated and proven right. How has this desire to be correct caused trouble for you professionally?