The Big Mistake

The Big Mistake

Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom.”


As a sales manager, Paul liked to hold weekly accountability meetings with each of his six team members.  The idea was to help provide training and guidance to each as they grew in their careers, while also keeping them focused on their sales goals.  Five of the six seemed to thrive under this style of leadership.  One did not.

Earl was a great salesperson.  He enjoyed his job, found the work challenging yet rewarding and got along very well with his co-workers. All, of course, except for Paul, his manager.  He found Paul’s accountability meetings intrusive and unnecessary.  He believed his work spoke for itself; he didn't need the constant oversight.  

A noticeable rift began to form between Paul and Earl.  Paul became defensive, rationalizing that if five of the six he worked with were doing well with his accountability approach, then surely the problem was not with him.  Earl grew resentful, considering Paul’s methods a form of harassment. 

Their relationship ended badly.  Earl resigned from the organization, and Paul felt a vague sense of failure over the conflict. 

Like Paul and Earl, we each have our own set of needs and expectations in how we want to treat and be treated by others. When others don’t know our needs and expectations, however, it’s easy to feel insulted and mistreated.

The big mistake made in any relationship, whether personal or professional, is the unwillingness to learn, understand, and appreciate another’s needs and expectations.

There are three key elements to avoiding this big mistake:

1.     Self-awareness.  Evaluate your words and actions in order to minimize possible stress in others.

2.     Flexibility.  Be willing to adjust your usual behavior to fit the situation.

3.     Share.  Don't be afraid to communicate your needs with others. 

Not all conflict can be avoided.  But if you're willing to take the time and make the effort to meet the needs of others-and share your own in the process-the big communication mistakes become much harder to make. 

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