Simple solutions

I love brilliant solutions that return us to our common humanity in the most accessible of ways.

Are you familiar with the delicious novels of Lee Smith?  One of her most recent, The Last Girls, despite its romance, sassyness, and pure fun also contains one of the most profound teachings I know.  More proof that enlightenment can be found anywhere!  A lesser character in the story, who is not particularly heroically depicted, is described as having learned a trick of immeasurable power in relationships – and it translates as well to many aspects of business.

Rather than arguing, rather than sticking to his guns and defending his position at all costs, this character has learned that the most appropriate, useful, peace-keeping response to those who present opposing or otherwise startling viewpoints is simply, “You may be right about that.”

This is a divine piece of wisdom, people.  Sometimes you want to debate, but more often you just want to get on with life and not become ensnared in contradictions.  But we’re commonly diverted from our goals by the interventions of others, and feel we have to defend ourselves, explain and justify.

And our customers and critics in business, who delight in telling us how we’re doing it all wrong, how our prices are too high or our services inadequate, can be brought back to our side through this one easy response.  (When working in retail years ago, it would amaze me how some customers seemed to be taking out personal frustrations on a humble clerk, just because they could.)  Instead of being defensive, consider the benefit of simply responding, “You may be right about that.”  While preserving your pride and the possibility that the other may actually be wrong about that, by making this statement you even up the balance between you and the other party;  you restore parity; you not only deflate the other’s aggression, but you also open yourself safely to the possibility that indeed the other’s viewpoint is worth contemplating.

Thank you, Lee Smith.  Such a simple, yet drastically innovative solution!


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