Just a Tiny Bit Wrong

The Pennsylvania Commissioner’s “invitation” finally arrived. I was to appear at a public hearing on my company’s rate filing. Somehow, the commissioner had determined our requested price increase was excessive. In fact, he said our rate need was 0!

I immediately started working on my strategory, how I would convince the High Commissioner our proposed increase was reasonable and appropriate.

We had scrubbed the data and done all the required actuarial voodoo. We have the right number, Commish.

I went over all this with our rate counsel. Our attorney, Jeff, is a veteran of many rate hearings and really knows his way around the capitol.

“Dave, your support for the rate increase is quite comprehensive and truly impressive. But your argument is going nowhere.”

Huh? It is a great argument!

“Remember, the commissioner believes the number is 0. Your argument makes him wrong.”

Well, he is wrong.

“Think of it like this—he hears you saying, ‘Take a giant leap and come over to my way of thinking. Abandon your position—invalidate it—on the strength of my argument.’ “

Okay, I can see that. I feel the same way about his way of thinking.

“How about this: instead of asking him to agree that you are right—and he is wrong—let’s get him to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, the right number is not precisely 0.”

Okay, go on.

“That way he is effectively saying, ‘My position may not be totally right.’ A step in our direction.”

I like it. This could work. Okay, Jeff, set up the call! Ultimately, we negotiated a rate increase that got us everything we needed to have… (not all that we wanted, but all that we truly needed).

And it all started
by letting the other guy
be just a tiny bit

Dave Lacefield shares lessons learned in 40+ years working in the business world. His struggles and successes as a stockbroker, insurance agent, actuary, president of a Texas MGA, and CEO of a publicly-traded insurance company have informed him on a wide range of issues and circumstances confronting business leaders, and leaders-to-be. Dave’s views are his own and do not represent the positions of his employer or any affiliated entities.