Ignore the Right Answer


We often hide or ignore the right answer because it seems hard or difficult. We dismiss the correct answer, hoping to find a shortcut. Or hope the problem will go away or maybe someone else will solve the problem for us. Denial and avoidance are common attempted solutions to problems.

Student Raised Hand

If the answer were easy, the question would have already been answered or the problem already solved. Thus, the harder solutions often remain, waiting for someone to solve them, to provide a commitment to the necessary effort. What happens? Many will exert more effort looking for a short-cut than just working toward the best, clearest solution.

A simple example of this can be seen at trade-shows. I’ve seen smart, educated people stand in a long line to complete a survey just to get a cheap t-shirt that advertises someone else’s products or services. In that same amount of time they could have found a better answer: do something useful and earn enough money to buy a better, quality shirt. Yet, like sheep, they waste valuable time to get something “free.”

Don’t they realize that it is only free if your time has absolutely no value? We can’t make more time; once each minute is gone, it is gone forever. This short-cut to a “free” t-shirt is expensive.g for

Like so many things in life, learning and improving communication skills requires practice. Smart, regular practice. This is the answer that most people ignore because it involves regular work. Yet at the same time, almost every business and project struggle and failure we’ve seen has roots in communication failures. In the long run, ignoring the right answer is not clever, it is painful. Yet the ignoring continues.

I’m a fan of working smart instead of just throwing hours of blind, thoughtless effort at a problem. However, it is important to remember that many smart answers still require work, often lots of work. The smart answer that leads to success is often the direct, dig-in-and-get-it-done approach. As I often tell my team and clients, “The fastest way to do something is to do it right.”


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website,www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

© 2011 All Rights Reserved.  Glenn S. Phillips and Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.