I had a contracting problem on one of our jobs recently. The project manager asked me to review the documents and his response to the dispute to confirm that we were correct according to the terms of our contract. I reviewed both documents and concurred with his determination. We were 100% right. This contractor had no right to do what he was threatening to do- stop material shipments due to increased costs after the terms of our agreement. His contract binds him to hold his pricing for the entire project. He simply did not have a leg to stand on.
As I considered this further, I began to contemplate his reaction. Most likely he will abandon the project and the project would suffer a significant amount of lost time while we find a replacement contractor. In the meantime the project will sit in the weather and potentially sustain damage.
I directed the project manger to hold on the response. Even though we were completely right, the response would almost certainly be catastrophic to the project. We decided to see if we could negotiate a settlement instead of rejecting his claim and exercising our contractual rights. We had no obligation to do this, yet we really had no choice.
Being 100% right isn’t always enough.
You need to consider the circumstances and the reaction.
Truth is a funny thing. We tend to dwell just on the right and wrong of it…
I must tell them that they are living in sin!
He is worrying so he obviously isn’t trusting God!
She keeps hanging around with that guy from prison!
He drinks every night so he is an alcoholic!
She is so reckless with her spending. She has huge credit card debt!
He never spends any time with his family!
Sometimes we use truth like a hammer. We just have to tell them! It’s our duty. There’s no denying they are wrong. I need to straighten them out!
So you reach for the hammer and, potentially, say bye-bye to your relationship. Then, how can you help them? And who is this really about? Is this about them or is it about you? It’s likely that your self-righteousness is at work here. Maybe you grab the hammer cause your ego has got the best of you!
Next time you feel the urge to set someone straight you may want to walk out the probable outcome. If you don’t get the desired result, then what good is it to grab the hammer? A softer and gentler approach may be the ticket!