Have you ever heard someone say: “This isn’t the hill I’m going to die on”? It was something an old manager of mine used to say fairly frequently. When she said it, it meant that she disagreed about something our CEO was asking us to do, but she didn’t feel strongly enough about the argument to fight about it until the bitter end. In other words, it wasn’t a disagreement she was going to lose her job over.
If you are being asked to bend your values and ethics, or conduct illicit activity, or if you think someone is going to get hurt – stand your ground. Bow out and leave. Don’t live your life with a decision you know to be evil. However, most professional decisions we are required to make day-to-day are not life and death. They are the mundane negotiations we make when trying to navigate boundaries, opportunities, and personalities on our way to a shared objective. They are nothing to get bent out of shape or cry over. So, when you propose a course of action you know to be correct, but are met with resistance from above, make your case simply and clearly, and repeat your argument a maximum of three times at key junctures in the negotiations. If, after three strikes, your opinion and rational have failed to sway those responsible for the ultimate decision, you are out. Give in with grace. You’ve expressed yourself clearly, you’ve gone on record with your advice, and you’ve provided three opportunities for your superiors to accept your point of view. You’ve done all you can. The decision is out of your hands. You are out.
This is the three strikes rule. It allows you to continue to develop a productive relationship with your superiors while remaining principled and professional. Stubbornness, pride and sensitivity have no place in your work environment. Don’t get canned for a petty disagreement. Keep the three strikes rule in mind and you won’t get ejected from the game.