Are You Dealing With A Dummy?

Be careful when dealing with a dummy. It's dangerous business. From nobleup Coming Back Slowly's Flickr photostream.

I heard a wise man tell me once, “Be careful about getting into an argument with a dummy. People might not be able to tell the difference.”

It’s hard to work well with a dummy. I am not talking about the people who have a good heart, want to do the right thing and may end up short on talent. I can respect such people.

I am talking about the people who are completely self-focused and want what they want. They do not care about others, only themselves. There may be an illusion that being hard-nosed and greedy is good business. They are not accounting for the bridges they will burn with people. It is bad business. Business is about relationships along with profit.

If you are dealing with someone that is looking out only for their interest, either as a customer or even as a vendor, my experience has been there is not much you can do to change the person, nor should that be the goal. There’s plenty of good people to work with that are ideal. Here are some things to consider in your encounters with dummies:

  • Stick to facts. Dummies like to cloud reality with emotions. Speak the truth and be factual.
  • Make good agreements. If you have bad agreements or no agreements, it is your fault. Ensure you have good agreements in place as a basis for any conversations, conflicts or getting things done.
  • Do not overcommit. Be concrete in what you are committed to. Stay inside the boundaries. Don’t get pulled into volunteering for more. Do what is expected and keep your own integrity.
  • Spell it out. What you are committed to needs to be captured. Make a list. Get agreement on the list. Ensure each item cannot be misinterpreted.
  • Be vigilant. Ensure your communications and tasks are specific and accountable. It’s good business, regardless. Have a checklist that you do not deviate from.

The better policy is to avoid doing business with dummies altogether. It usually ends up with some kind of conflict.

Ever had such challenges? What did you do?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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