While stating the obvious in the literal sense, this maxim’s true value is in telling us to deal with the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be. This is a favourite saying of my brother-in-law who runs a successful industrial supplies business in Toronto, a highly competitive market. We all know that things “should” go a certain way but often do not. It is more productive to deal with the situation as it is than to waste resources trying to bend the environment to our point of view – although sometimes you might have to work hard to discover the real situation. This applies to communications as much as it applies to decisions.
For example, a client of ours whom we’ll call “Pat” wanted to bid on a government contract. It was well-known that bidders always bid low, even less than cost, in order to secure the contract and then made their profit on contract amendments that inevitably came along after the contract was awarded. Pat felt this was wrong and bid a fair price – and didn’t come close to qualifying.
So, when making a decision, one of the questions to ask yourself is, “Am I dealing with the situation as it really is or as I would like it to be?”