“Why should we partner with your business?” Skepticism. Being in the business world, you probably feel as if you are met with many questions, especially ones that seem to doubt your abilities. In actuality, it seems that being skeptical isn’t a trait one usually highlights on their resume or in their job interviews with potential employers. This quirk is one that is often thought of as negative or for some, off-putting. However, when it comes to entrepreneurship, it doesn’t hurt to be skeptical and to ask the tough questions that can greatly affect your business.
When a friend of mine sent me an article about skepticism, it caught me off guard, and I was surprised that it was something that can be utilized to help make someone more successful in the business realm. By asking the tough or straightforward questions, you help in avoiding miscommunications or assumptions that lead to disappointment. Dr. Chester Karrass, a successful speaker in the art of negotiation, highlights the importance of being skeptical in the business world. In Dr. Karrass’s opinion, “When you take a skeptical approach, it allows you to avoid misunderstandings.”
A huge part of being an entrepreneur is ensuring that both you and those with whom you partner are equally receiving and getting fair trades in a business relationship. Asking further questions or making sure that something doesn’t sound too good to be true is the best way to avoid assumptions that lead to chaos or catastrophe. As Dr. Karrass says, “Being skeptical will also help you avoid making wrong assumptions, and give you more opportunity to find out what the other party really needs. This allows you to reach better, longer-lasting agreements.”
People seem to associate being skeptical with negativity or an unnecessary pushback to something that seems too good to pass up. It gives the feeling of a more personal attack than one that is meant to be a professional clarification. Skepticism may leave the other parties feeling either mistrusted or undependable in their decision-making. However, it’s quite the opposite. Asking the tough questions and ensuring that there are no secrets or hidden agendas is better for everyone, even if being skeptical makes others uncomfortable.
I know that it can be hard to speak up and just easier to accept what you hear from people who seem to be the expert in what they do. While you may not want to question or undermine them, being skeptical does help open the doors to communication and enhance trust if done in a way that is tactful and respectful. That is why it’s important to best understand how to handle a situation where being skeptical can be of great use.
Honing your skeptical abilities
To assist in honing your skeptical abilities without the worry of sounding too negative, here are these four ways as laid about Dr. Karrass to assist in that endeavor. Hopefully, these will help you navigate your business relationships and negotiations, even with those individuals who you feel closest to.
First of all, don’t take anything for granted. I think this a rule one should follow daily, especially in the business world. Be sure to appreciate those who help run your business and to not let your appreciation slide simply because you “know” them. This also involves your long-time business associates or vendors, as one should still make sure that they follow through on their guarantees and promises when it comes to business negotiations.
Even if you know someone or feel comfortable enough with them that you don’t need to push further, it pays to be cautious. This isn’t an attack on your partnership, but just a beneficial way to ensure that everyone’s needs will be met and successfully considered.
The second recommendation is to avoid assumptions and to check all your facts. Assumptions can be dangerous, albeit not deadly, and they can still lead to disastrous outcomes that could have easily been avoided in the first place with simple communication. Validating your facts and answers are much easier to do than cleaning up a mess later just because a few questions weren’t asked in the first place.
Thirdly, put any issues or projects that arise in perspective and context before acting or making a decision. While everyone may think that their issue is an emergency, be sure to sit back and gather all the facts before starting a witchhunt or approving something right away. Emotions can make us jump and try to fix the problem or desire instantly. However, being skeptical and figuring out what exactly needs to be done, and when, can help a business-maker not make a rash decision that they regret later on.
As Dr. Karrass recommends, “Put everything into its proper context – size, time, importance, today, past, future, etc.” This helps put into perspective what needs to be done and in a more appropriate timeframe than just right at this moment.
Finally, and most importantly, figure out the line between what is real and what is just an interpretation of the facts. For many of us, we like to interpret what something means instead of understanding what it actually means. Ask questions or step back and examine what is known and what is just an observation. Validation is imperative, especially if you want to make the best decision for you and your business. Dr. Karrass calls on us to have “a strict demarcation of the facts versus an interpretation of the facts.”
As you get in the position where you think something is too good to be true, or you feel as though you need to make a business decision quickly, remember to take a step back and ask the tough questions that need to be answered. This not only helps build trust with your associates, but also ensures that you are making the best business decisions you can with the facts you know and not just with assumptions.
Being skeptical isn’t a bad thing, especially when it comes to looking out for your business and your team. In actuality, it’s a fine tool to learn in the business world and in our life’s journey.