Don’t Get Mad; Get Pushy

accountability-responsibility“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?

Keeping it simple,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

Misti on Google+

2 thoughts on “Don’t Get Mad; Get Pushy

  1. Wendy

    On the other hand, how many times do you take a car to the shop, get an estimate and the mechanic says “if we find something else wrong once we open up the engine and take it apart, I’ll give you a call and let you know?”
    Everyone deserves a fair price for their time and expertise. Yet no one wants to be taken advantage of and the contractor is in the best position to guard against the risk of under bidding a job. Communication is key, and while you may have the skills necessary to be clear in your expectations, I wonder if Peter did as well? Or if he learned this lesson at the end of the job?

    • Misti Burmeister

      Great point, Wendy! Communication is key, and cannot pretend to know what, if anything, he learned, I certainly learned a lot.

      I really like – “no one wants to be taken advantage of” – so true. And, my greater question has become, “How do I ensure everyone walks away really happy with the outcome?”

      This question forces me to think about the other persons position.


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