If you are around me much, you know I latch on to phrases and use them to illustrate a point.  I’ve used one several times in the last few days, so I’m prompted to share it with you: “No matter how thin you cut it, there are always two sides.”

In my role of CEO, occasionally folks bring me disputes to resolve.  Someone will contact me and tell me a grievance.  More times than not, if someone wants to involve me in a company dispute, it’s a big deal. So, along with the grievance, there is emotion and strong feeling.

I have learned the wisest course to take is to withhold judgement until I get the whole story.  Hear me, I don’t always withhold judgement until I have heard both sides.  But, when I don’t, I wish I had.

Here’s why:

  1. You can’t always believe what you read in the paper.  I’ve been subject to some criticism in the press and in the courtroom.  Some of the things that have been said about me have been derived by comments taken out of context or determined by someone trying to “read between the lines.”  In any case, I’ve learned that just because it was someone’s perception doesn’t mean it is so.
  2. Communication is imperfect.  You can read emails wrong.  You can hear criticism where there was none intended.  You can misunderstand.  I’ve found that to wade slowly into conflict, seeking to flush out the facts behind both sides will prove to make things not as bad as they seem.  Or, as good.

When I have time to ask questions, learn more, probe motivations, hear both sides – emotion ebbs away, respect is maintained.

Get both sides before reacting.  Dig deeper.  Hold off difficult words until you are certain they are called for.  It will prove to strengthen your team.

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PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
PalletOne Inc.
Company President, Howe Q. Wallace

Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.


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