Fine Isn’t Always Fine

True Story: About a month ago, I was working with a talented co-worker to complete an action item. I asked if it would be ok to push the deliverable back a week. They thought about it and said “that is fine”.

Side story: My 12 year old son is one that wants to keep people happy and does not want to burden them. He will sometimes answer a question with “that is fine”. Over the years, I have learned to ask a second question — “Fine – good, or fine – no?” He will look at me and smile, then he will tell me want he really wants to do.

Back to the True Story: Leaning on my past lessons learned (aka mistakes), I asked the follow-up question, “Fine good or fine we should not push back the date?” After some silence, they responded that it would be ok to push it back since most people would be ok with the later date. It is not ideal, but would be ok. Based on that non-convincing answer, I decided to keep digging (or being a pain — depending on how you look at it). “So, what do you really think?” After a more little silence they said, “Well, I really think we should keep our original date. That was our promise and it is better that we keep our promise. So, I would feel better if we not let it slide.”

What did we do? I agreed with their point and we kept the original date.

I decided to be a miner and kept digging by asking, “Why didn’t you say what you really wanted right away?” They thought about it and said they were not sure. I shared with them that my plus feedback is that they pushed me and we made a better decision based on that. My delta feedback is that they did not share what they really wanted or thought right away. They agreed and laughed that they may end up in the blog someday.

They called it.

What are the lessons?

  • Scott can be a pain.
  • Share want you really think or want right away. Don’t be mad if they do not agree or do it, but give them a chance by hearing your insights.
  • As a leader, sometimes you have to dig for what people really want or need. The first answer may not be the real answer.

Don’t settle for being ‘fine’. Lead the Interstates Way!!

Scott Peterson


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