It is important to strongly advocate your position. I don’t suggest arguing just to be argumentative (we all know people who do that). Rather, be a strong advocate for your position and beliefs. This was brought home to me recently when a service provider sent one of my clients a bill for an extra $2,600. While the amount is small it still serves to make an important point.
They had proposed a fixed price but there is no doubt in my mind that they did extra work. On the other hand, they were beginning to develop a pattern of asking for “a few more dollars”. Still, their request wasn’t unreasonable. Moreover, there was a relationship to protect. I shot back a quick email pointing out that they had come to the well too many times with these types of requests, reminded them that it was a fixed bid and that I had discussed with them the possibility of moving the account early on. That was the fair solution under this set of circumstances. They quickly accepted that offer and the issue was resolved.
I don’t blame them for asking. Unforeseen things happen all the time and it requires both sides to be flexible if they want to maintain a long term relationship.
But that is not the real point of the story. The real question is what did they truly think about the email they received? I think the real answer came several weeks later when they sent another email my way asking if I’d be interested in an introduction which might result in more business on my end. Simply put, that action helped earn their respect.
Whenever you make an introduction, you are putting your reputation on the line. Clearly, they respected our position on this relatively small billing dispute as well as the way in which we handled it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be willing to risk their reputation by suggesting the referral. There is never anything wrong with strongly advocating your position. 99% of the time, the other side is going to respect you for standing up for yourself, your client, or your company. That’s what business is about.
Of course, I offer one caveat. This email is distributed to over 30,000 people across the United States and internationally. Cultures differ. They differ geographically and from company to company. One has to be sensitive to this. The style that worked for me when I worked on the East Coast doesn’t play nearly as well in the Midwest where people tend to be much less confrontational. My first job was at Unisys where you could have a heated argument during the day and no one gave it a second thought by the time they got to the company watering hole, Reed’s Tavern (now Reed’s Restaurant & Nightclub).
Adapt your style to fit the situation (which is easier said than done for most). If you don’t you will likely not “win” your case and you won’t be respected either.
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to For more information, visit www.homza.com
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