Don't Get Mad; Get Pushy

By Misti Burneister

Posted Misti Burmeister


“Holding people to their promises, or even to their greatness, is far from easy work. But it’s worth the effort to do so!”— Misti Burmeister

After buying a house in Baltimore, my partner and I decided that a splash of paint, a couple ceiling fans, and removing the wet bar from the basement would make this house into our home.

Peter, our contractor, came over to get an idea of the work required to complete the job. After a bit of negotiating, we settled on a price. To ensure we were on the same page, I said, “So, I can expect you to do X, Y, and Z for this cost, right?”

He agreed.

“I’m not a fan of nickel and diming,” I told him. “So, please be sure you are happy with this price.” Again, he agreed.

I assumed it was all settled. But on the morning Peter’s crew got started, he pulled me aside and said, “Those ceiling fans are going to take a lot of work.”

“I’m sure you can handle it,” I told him.

“Yeah, but it will take a lot more work to get that room wired for a fan than I thought,” he said. “It’s going to cost you more.”

Filled with anger and frustration, I thought about firing him. Then I considered begging him to do the work at no extra cost. Then I wanted to go yell at the wind. I was mad! I knew this wasn’t OK, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

After stressing myself out, I finally stopped to think, How do I get this man to honor his word?

“Peter, you had a chance to see my home before you gave me a quote, right?”

“Yes,” he said. “But I didn’t know the room wasn’t wired for the fan. It’s going to require more work.”

“And whose responsibility is that?” I asked, finally calm(er).

“Mine,” he said. “I will take care of it.” And he did, without any further discussion.

Holding people to their promises, or even to their greatness, is far from easy work. It’s hard to communicate when a conversation triggers fear – fear of hurting someone’s feelings or that they will get mad and do less than their best work. But it’s worth the effort to do so!

Join the Conversation: Who in your business fails to achieve greatness, or to honor their word – to themselves or to you? How do you hold them accountable?

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