The probability syndrome

“I’m sure it’s probably going to happen”

This two-part sentence tells us a lot about bureaucracy and the challenge of being in the middle management. I heard it many times  from hard-working but underpowered people in organizations that should know better.
In case you have started introspection and a rewind, there is no need to be upset at all. I have heard many Vice Presidents and CFO spoke like this. Now what does this convey?

The first half, “I’m sure,” is a statement of power. The speaker is trying to establish trust and authority with the customer by owning what is about to be said, speaking for the organization.

And the second half, “probably” is the waffle, the denial of the responsibility just claimed. Don’t blame me!

Obviously, the symbolic logic here doesn’t hold up. It’s nonsensical to say sure and probably in the sentence. But it’s a symptom of the impossible situation so many large companies put their front line in.

Either let them own it (not just the saying, but the doing) or teach them and empower them to hand the interaction to someone who does. You build customer loyalty and connection not by answering fast, but by engaging with respect and transparency.

But to be emphatic in professional interaction, you require lots of guts and no job insecurity!

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