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In August, WM Media (the company I cofounded) had bought the forum as I detailed in seven mistakes in one day. Prior to the sale, the owner of the website had told us he owned the licenses for the forum software, which makes sense since he owns the website. Since these licenses generally take a while to transfer, we released the money from escrow after the website was transferred, allowing him to get the money sooner. I’d sent him an email saying just that.

Weeks passed, and we still heard nothing from him regarding the licenses, valued at about $300. We talked to him to see see what the problem was. Apparently, the owner of the website before him had never quite transferred them over, so he doesn’t actually have the licenses! From a purely logical perspective, that really has nothing to do with us. He probably didn’t even know that the license needs to be transferred (it’s like having the title to a car). However, after constantly asking him about it for a month and knowing that he probably feels “cheated” somewhat (since it’s an extra thing that he didn’t know he “owes”), we agreed on a large amount of time – 2 months, to either recover the licenses or send us $300 so we can buy new ones.

Unfortunately, the end of that two month period is 11/31 and he now says he is trying to buy used licenses. It reminds me of how annoying it is to “collect” money from people, but it also got me thinking about how this situation has come up. How did I end up continously bugging someone for money that he doesn’t really want to give me? I started wondering whether that’s really a failure to communicate at my end. After all, why wouldn’t he just give me the money if it obviously wasn’t his? It’s like if I dropped $300 on the street and someone next to me picked it up – they would just give it back to me.

Even having this question in my mind shows me that I haven’t been considering his perspective sufficiently. He had told me that the Bill of Sale said nothing about the licenses. In response to that, I’d pointed to the line “The Website is sold free of all liens, encumbrances, liabilities and adverse claims of every kind and nature whatsoever”, which obviously (to me) included a license to use the software necessary to operate. However, despite that, it’s clear that when he signed the contract, that was not his understanding of what it said.

Additionally, if I remember correctly, he did say at one point that he is short on money and need it. Of course, I’d just taken that as some excuse to blow me off. Yet, aren’t I really the one making it hard? I’d originally judged him to be a mature and fair person. Maybe he really needs the money to pay for a mortgage on his house or something, which might have been his original reason for selling the website.

I’d been somewhat bothered this morning by this event, as it’s a relatively stressful and negative conversation each time it happens, for only a few hundred dollars. It probably would have been best to have gotten into this situation in the first place. I probably should have made sure that we got everything we needed before escrow closed. However, looking at it from his point of view, it makes me feel better.

In situations like these where there is a constant source of discomfort, it’s best to try to resolve it as quickly as possible. Therefore, the best thing to do is lay out a plan of action and not think about it anymore. Also, we really have no power in this situation, as he can just ignore us. Therefore, our options are:

1) Let it go
2) Try to settle
3) Keep insisting

At this point, the time invested so far should be ignored, because those are sunk costs. Option 3 probably won’t get us anywhere, as he’ll probably just ignore us. At best, it would be a very stressful situation which could possibly bring back the $300, but ruining the relationship completely. Option 1 actually is not a bad idea, given the relatively small amount of money. However, I believe he is a good person and is honestly trying to get the licenses to me but want to pay as little as possible (from his communication). Additionally, it’s obvious that we weren’t talking about the same things in the original sale, so he does have a point. Therefore, if I indicate that we’ll try to settle for the cost of the current used licenses he wants to buy, he should agree to that.

It’s interesting that listening to the other person can really change your feelings on a matter once viewed from their perspective. Additionally, it presents a third solution that is better than either of the first two. Listening is a wonderful thing :-)

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2 Responses to “Listening To Another Person Presents A Third Option”

  1. Albert | UrbanMonk.Net on December 18th, 2007 12:31 am

    Couldn’t agree more. Most of the time we listen we are just putting our own ideas into their mouths, but truly listening is the way to go ;)

    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  2. sc third option on May 13th, 2008 6:01 pm

    [...] To Another Person Presents A Third OptionWhy listening to other people can be beneficial see What users want about smart clip interface Archive …Forgive me sc team if u did not like [...]