Every day you are forced to evaluate people. Whether you are looking for a business partner, sizing up a competitor, hiring a new member of the team, or dealing with a vendor, you are weighing their strengths and weaknesses. But it is easy to make big mistakes when you make a quick judgment about someone’s weaknesses. Here are three reasons you should always question the perceived weakness of people.
1. Everyone’s Playing a Game
The basic strategy for winning in war and business is the same. Attack your enemy where they are weakest. But, it is often easy to make mistakes when scouting people’s weaknesses. One of the most famous books on strategy is The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Even though this book was written by a Chinese general who lived over 2,500 years ago, it is still used by military and business leaders today.
One of the core principles of the book is to appear weak when you are strong and strong when you are weak. Before you assume that someone you are dealing with is weak, you need to consider that they might just be playing you. They may be strong and trying to lure you into an area where they are better than you. Always question a perceived weakness, especially from an enemy.
2. Overlooking Their Strengths
It is easy to focus on the negative. Often we are more likely to notice the weaknesses someone has before we pay any attention to their strengths. Making a decision solely based on the perceived weaknesses of someone is a great way to make a bad decision.
This happens when hiring employees or freelancers all the time. A business decides someone has weaknesses and is not a good fit for the organization. But, they may miss out on important strengths that could significantly benefit the organization.
NFL superstar Tom Brady wasn’t considered a good enough passer to make a decent professional quarterback. The New England Patriots took a chance on him. He sat on the bench until the starter got hurt. Then Tom Brady took his team to the Super Bowl, and won. Now at the end of a career filled with awards and championships he is considered one of the best to ever play the game.
Always question a perceived weakness and see if it is hiding an incredible strength or skill.
3. Lack of Data
Humans, like computers, can only make information based on the data available. The trouble with making judgments about people is that we are always short on reliable data.
When you see a weakness in someone else, how did you come to decide you saw a weakness? You may not know the person well enough. They may have been having an uncharacteristically bad day. You may have too small a sample size to know the true skill level someone has. You may be using the wrong criteria to make a judgment.
Often people feel pressured to make fast decisions in business. But, when it comes to people, you will usually make better decisions if you take your time and get enough information.
Before you make a decision based on a perceived weakness in someone else, consider if you really have enough data.