Dangerous Phrases

By: Lisa Marie Koebcke

Like Pavlov’s dog, people are often conditioned with a few dangerous phrases. When confronted with a difficult question, many people use a response they have grown accustomed to using without thinking their answer through, or even worse, they lie. This isn’t a good practice, and though you would think this goes without saying this is unfortunately not the case. If you don’t have the right answer, work on finding it. When you stop learning, you stop growing.

Below are some phrases that you want to do your best to avoid saying.

“But that’s the way we’ve always done it.” This is likely the response of a person who feels threatened by something or someone new. In some instances, “That’s what the client wants” is just as dangerous. Some people fear change and others embrace it. A gap needs to be bridged. As professionals, we need to provide options and choices to the customer.

“It’s not my problem.” It may very well not be your problem, but when a problem occurs during a project and the successful completion of the project is in the balance, ultimately everyone involved is now in jeopardy of failing. It may not be your responsibility to solve the problem but ethically you should at least let the project manager know of the issue and it is now his/her responsibility to present the problem to the appropriate party. Yes, it is essentially passing the buck, but it is being passed in the proper way. A well-defined Scope of Work will determine responsibilities within the project team.

“Well, that will just be a change order.” Change orders have become all too common in the audio visual world. In anticipation of change orders, some AV firms actually have it written into the project manager’s job descriptions as, “Proactively manage the change order process.” Yes, I understand changes do occur, however, unforeseen factors or items missed on the initial site walk may be the responsibility of the integrator and not subject to a change order. Sometimes you have to wonder, are they leaving things out intentionally? Everyone knows the low bid wins and change orders add cost.

Here are a few ways we can keep these changes from happening:

  1. Take pride in our work. A lot of time and effort went into developing the scope of work, line drawings, programming, and installation of a project. These behind the scenes aspects are often overlooked, but the fact of the matter is that they are just as important as the final fit and finish. So, do not defend poor implementation, it only fosters the problem. You and the work you provide will be remembered. A lot of teams may work on completing a project, but ultimately your name is on the line as much as everyone else’s.
  2. Know the difference between “customer” and “true end user.” This notion often gets overlooked, but remember the customer is the person who hired you for your services while the true end user is the person who actually is putting their hands on your work and using it on a daily basis. The end user is the person that we need to make happy. That is the person that goes back to your customer and says, “Who installed this?” “Who programmed that?” You may never meet the true end user, but your work sure will.
  3. Make the most of your interactions with your clients. After all you are selling yourself as well your services. Don’t just shoot for the repeat customer, strive for the customer that sticks with you until the end.

If you ever catch yourself saying any of these phrases in response to a difficult question, make sure to remember to stop and take a moment the next time. Often times the right response is right on the tip of your tongue.