How to reply to: “Is that the best you can do?”

gordon-strachanIs one way of challenging others. It’s a slight twist on the carrot v stick approach.

Instead of praising others, possibly when you know they could do better, it encourages the person to see if they can up their game.

You begin to think, ‘Maybe he’s right. Is that the best I can do?’

The Scotland football manager, Gordon Strachan, said that as a young manager he would berate players to get more from them. It was the classic school of tough love approach. But it stopped working at a certain point.

Why?

The players simply got used to it and filtered about the abuse. Co-workers, family, and teenagers are the same. Verbal abuse has a short term impact but with diminishing returns.

Strachan had probably been exposed to this as a young player, so it became his default approach. But, like all motivation techniques, it only works in context.

‘Is that the best you can do?’

When he started to use this tactic instead, the players responded differently.

While most of us are taken aback when we hear this, it tends to make us analysis our efforts and, if all else fails, dig deep and prove to the other person that, ‘Yeah, maybe I can do better.’

It’s predictable but it does seem to work.

One small mistake to avoid

Try to avoid the following:

‘Is that the best you can do? Look at him. See what he can do.’

What I’ve seen, trying to motivate teenagers is one example, is that when you compare their efforts with someone else’s efforts, it backfires.

Suddenly the dynamics change. For teenagers, who are pretty insecure anyway, it implies that this other kid is on the right track and they need to catch up with them.

The focus shifts. Instead of competing with their own latent talents, they’re competing with someone else. If anything, this breeds resentment, jealousy, and frustration.

A simple ‘Is that the best you can do?’ can be very effective if the person feels you want them to succeed, and not dismiss their efforts.

If the words come from the wrong place, they’ll twig it.

Thousands of templates to jump start your project

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan

 

 

Want More Writing Tactics?

Over 127,000 readers rely on Klariti every month. Sign up now for Ivan’s fresh writing strategies, practical advice, and resources delivered to your inbox each week.