“Just Because I Understand Doesn’t Mean I Have to Like It”

As I was working yesterday I had a moment that allowed me to reflect on and connect with the sentiments of many of my clients.

Though I am a turnaround professional and my clients are in trouble long before I get there, I am still quite often the bearer of bad news. Yes, I fix things. Yes, I save my clients millions of dollars, their companies, homes, jobs and livelihoods. Yes, my clients like me.

However, that doesn’t keep me from being the one to say that the only resolution to their situations is to, for example, close a factory, lay off 100 people, fire their son, file for bankruptcy or who knows what else. That’s just the business I’m in.

It’s not that each of these moves isn’t necessary and ultimately for the greater good – each move means survival – but it does mean that people look at me as the bearer of bad news because I am not a yes man. I do not tell clients what they want to hear, as some of their other advisors may – I tell them what they need to hear.

And yesterday, as someone explained something to me that I wasn’t thrilled to hear – it wasn’t bad news, it just wasn’t what I wanted to hear – I found myself in a similar situation as my clients when I explain something to them that they understand but that they don’t like.

Hence, I said to my interlocutor as he misperceived my silence for misunderstanding, “Just because I understand doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

It’s obvious to say that understanding doesn’t mean agreement, but when we go along with things we undertand – agree or not – those things need not thrill us. It’s just important to see the value of the greater good on the other side as we go along.

What in business have you consented to and understood but didn’t like?

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