I was helping my wife change the sheets recently when we got into a brief disagreement over a minor item. It was one of those critically important discussions involving what corner of the fitted sheet goes on which corner of the bed. You see, king size mattresses aren’t perfectly square, and if you start with the wrong corner of the sheet on the wrong corner of the bed, all sorts of bad may befall you. Nothing fits right. the earth itself seems to tilt slightly off its axis. When it comes to fitted sheets, as with all things, proper positioning is essential. 

I am reminded of the story about the pregnant woman visiting the dentist. She said to him, “I don’t know what is more painful, having a tooth pulled, or giving birth.” The dentist replied, “Well make up your mind lady. I have to know which way to tilt this chair!”

But I sense I am digressing again…..

Apparently in this project I had identified the proper starting corner, and made my case a bit too strongly, because at one point my wife looked at me and said, “Look, do you want to be right, or would you rather be happy?”

Point taken. You didn’t have to club me between the eyes to get the drift. At least not too many times….

Besides raising the question “Why aren’t king sized mattresses perfectly square?”, this was a terrific example of one of those situations where it is technically possible to win a battle, while still managing to lose the war. I wonder how many times in the world of workers’ comp we do the same thing to ourselves. 

Our industry is not exactly based on happiness, joy and mirth. Many who toil in the trenches of the claims world deal with unhappy employers, angry injured workers, surly providers, and more. They have too many cases, too many meetings, and not enough days in the week to deal with it all. This is a perfect breeding ground for the “victorious battle, losing war” scenario.

While it is true that you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, it is clear some people just never got that message. At these times when conflicts arise we find we have a choice. When a particularly difficult person enters our working realm, we can choose to deal with them in one of two ways. We can choose to not allow it to become personal, or we can take the opposite tact and work to make the target of our ire suffer for their impertinence and incalcitrance. Calls may be slow to get returned, checks may take the maximum allowable time to go out, or worse, “mistakes” might be made that make sure the person does not receive what they are legally entitled to. Those are the small battles that can quickly add up to an expensively lost war.

These types of actions, born of anger and frustration, only in the end serve to extend and exasperate efforts to effectively manage a claim. Delayed phone calls, delayed treatment, delayed payments, when based in personality conflicts and personal relationships gone bad, are a recipe for eventual representation and litigation that might have otherwise been avoided. A war now lost. 

Taking an offensive persons remarks and behavior to heart and responding in a vindictive way might make you feel happy in the short term, but it is clearly not the right path.

So while it may be true that in the world of wedded bliss being happy is preferable, indeed advisable, to being right, in the workplace the opposite is true. In the world of workers’ compensation it far more important to be right than it is to be happy.     

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