Is That The Best You Can Do?

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Is that the best you can do? What a powerful question. It can be used in many business applications: negotiation, project management, self-analysis, and many, many more.

Those seven little words have saved me thousands and thousands of dollars. They can be used in nearly any negotiating scenario. I've used them at flea markets, craft bizaars, sales counters, and the internet. As long as you ask the question in a matter of fact tone (never with a feeling of accusation), it doesn't cast doubt on the product or the person you are doing business with. The person to whom you have asked the question really only has two responses. Both are positive. If the answer is yes, then you continue your discussion. If the answer is no, then it requires an explanation . . . a lowered price . . . a quicker delivery . . . or a better product.

In project management the question can be asked of each team member and the answers can be revealing. I've heard one person reply, “No. It's frustrating. I could do better. I should do better, but I'm just not getting the information back from the client as quickly as I need. Sometimes when I get the information, it's too late for other options. " After hearing this explanation, we turned the information around and communicated our concerns to the client. They didn't understand that a single e-mail or phone call could have saved them money. They were focused on a paper trail.

Many people strive for perfection and they want to be the best they can be. Some people never think about it. Even asking the question would be a shock to their system. Is this the best I can do? Is this the best WE can do? Sometimes even answering “yes" leaves a little gnawing dought in the back of your mind, which can surface the next time you work on the same type of project. If the doubt is there, then there must be a way to improve . . . and if we can improve . . . we CAN do better.

A simple question and a complicated answer can result in improved work methods, positive communications, lower prices and better people . . . is this the best we can do? You better believe it.

Justin Tyme is an internet reporter and published author. He writes for print media and industrial video productions and is a contributor to Ideas and Training ( and Human Resources Radio (


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