How to Lose an Argument By Being Right


When you lose an argument, you lose.  When you win an argument, you still lose.

"Go Against Yourself."  It's a sage piece of marital wisdom I heard once.  It basically means, have self control.  It also means to sacrifice your pride a little bit if it means having a favorable outcome in a conversation (or negotiation, sale, etc.).  

As adjusters, we occasionally run into situations where people are none too happy with us and seem to really want to start arguments with us.

After getting some experience, the adjuster can usually see these situations coming a mile away.  Sometimes they come out of left field.  But either way, we have two choices:

  1. We go with our first impulse and let fly whatever is going through our mind in the heat of the moment. We choose ridicule, condescension, passion, and argument. This person has called us an idiot, after all. We must try to take control back by arguing how he or she's really the idiot.

  2. Or, we can choose to pause and think about how we respond - and we choose patience, kindness, gentleness, and calmness. Worst case we can choose silence. Nothing stops a belligerent person more than just calm silence (if you've ever studied car buying, you know this tactic). Best case we can keep our head and agree to disagree and leave the customer with an expectation about the claims process going forward.

Cultivating that self control in ourselves at all times in everything else we do makes it easier to call on those reserves of patience when we're suddenly confronted with a situation.  Smile, be nice, be friendly even if you've met the knucklehead contractor on a previous inspection or the homeowner was belligerent over the phone.  It's true:  Attitude informs behavior.

Reminds me of another piece of marital wisdom:  When you lose an argument, you lose.  When you win an argument, you still lose.  In other words, if you choose to prove that you're RIGHT, instead of seeking UNDERSTANDING, you're really losing.  The outcome you want is understanding with the customer, not fluffing up your own pride.

It works like a charm in customer service.