We all know the classic example of hyperbole: “I caught a fish that was this big yesterday.” As the story is told to more and more people, the fish seems to grow exponentially until the average trout begins to appear as big as a shark. This example does not have serious implications, but when it comes to incidents in the office, this kind of thinking can cause huge problems. In a post at his blog, Ryan Ogilvie discusses the importance of establishing these exaggerators as incident barometers.
Those who are constantly embellishing incidents may seem like a hindrance on a company, but their efforts can be redirected into a positive outcome. Often, when people exaggerate events it is because they feel as though this will get them what they need. This behavior can prove to be an asset under the right conditions. For example, after a process is implemented, it is often left alone with little finite attention. Tasking a person who is regularly using this process to keep an eye out for issues can help improve the overall value of the process.
Another instance where this type of person can prove beneficial is in asking them about their thoughts on training programs. Their experience in their field will provide insight that can help people onboard more efficiently. Their concerns can be addressed as a function of training, which will help to minimize business impact in the future.
Whatever their reason is for exaggerating the issues, the bottom line is that they are attempting to communicate something to you. It is not only your job, but vital to the organization’s success that you continue this dialogue and understand what and why they are saying the things they are. Ultimately, this will improve business relationships and help the service delivery.
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