That’s Great, But What’s the Catch?

How many times has someone made you an offer, given a gift, or done something nice for you out of the blue, and just as you were about to say, “Wow, thanks so much!” your sixth sense kicked into gear, and instead your response was, “Wait, what’s the catch?”



  • Your teenager spontaneously cleaned their room or washed your car without being asked (or begged, or threatened…)
  • Your significant other encouraged you to call your friends and set up a boys’/girls’ night, or bought you a gift “just because”
  • Your father/mother-in-law actually paid you a compliment
  • Your friend showed up and returned the $100 they borrowed a decade ago
  • (Or maybe YOU were the one on the “giving” side of the equation in one of those moments?)


The point is that most people are jaded in this day and age, wary of scammers, from online dating profiles that are too perfect, to business opportunities that seem too good to be true.


And yet, sometimes it’s the opposite that is true.


Maybe it’s not that you’re deliberately trying to hide something, but rather, you may not realize that you left out some information, which allowed them to draw unrealistically “rosy” conclusions for themselves.


This is an important lesson learned the hard way but shared the easy way on this week’s Speaking to Influence podcast episode. Kris Burkhart, Global Chief Information Security Officer at Accenture, recounted an experience dealing with a ransomware attack, when he had been clear about providing positive updates to key stakeholders, but did not clearly state what areas those updates did NOT pertain to, thereby allowing the listeners to infer that the coast was clear, when in fact the full battle wasn’t over yet!


His big take-away from that experience:


“Don't just be clear, but be complete in your communications.”



Another important topic Kris addressed was how to draw the line between essential quality control and micromanaging.


It’s something we often take for granted, but in all fields, to some extent or other, there’s a true satisfaction in successful problem solving.


This can be challenging as a manager/leader, when you can see what the answer is or why something clearly won’t work, knowing how much time and resources would be saved if you just told your direct report the answer.


But telling them exactly what to do and how to do it, especially in detail, starts to loom dangerously into the world of micromanaging, and that would rob them of something even more valuable.


The process of experimentation, trial and error, research and development, and reaching one’s own solution is so helpful in learning and confidence building, that sometimes (even judiciously selected times) it’s important to let people make mistakes and figure out the solution for themselves.


To put it more simply, as Kris said, don’t “steal the joy from your employee working to find a solution,” (even if they get frustrated in the process!)


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here.


That way when they do finally discover a great solution, they don’t think it’s too good to be true, i.e. there’s no catch!