How to Become More Pragmatic in Service Management

Pragmatic is the capacity to see the practicalities of situations and use that insight to make effective decisions. Pragmatists prefer action to theory, and are often more concerned with the results of their actions than how they were achieved. This pragmatic mindset makes them a natural fit for service management as they are able to assess the impact of service on customers and implement changes that will improve the customer experience. This approach can be at odds with risk taking and visionary thinking, however, so it is important to balance pragmatics with these other traits.

Pragmatism developed in America around 1870, and has long been viewed as a third alternative to the analytic and continental philosophical traditions. It was championed by Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914), a logician and mathematician, and William James, a psychologist and moralist with a medical degree. Peirce’s Harvard colleague Josiah Royce (1855-1916), who was formally allied with absolute idealism, also endorsed pragmatic ideas and served as an interlocutor for pragmatists.

A central concept of pragmatics is that meaning is not determined solely by semantics – the literal meaning of an utterance – but rather by the context in which it is delivered. This principle is referred to as the Gricean maxims, and it was articulated by the philosopher of language Paul Grice in the 1970s. He developed a set of four general rules that can be applied across languages and contexts:

People who are pragmatic tend to focus on the reality of situations, rather than idealizing how they should be. They are less concerned with “what could be” and more about “what is,” which can help them achieve positive results in their day-to-day lives. This is a good trait to have in business, as it allows for the flexibility needed to respond quickly to challenges and opportunities.

The downside to a pragmatic approach is that it can encourage a bias towards short-term results and immediate gratification, which may discourage efforts that are likely to produce longer-term benefits or that require more patience. In addition, a purely pragmatic view of knowledge may overlook the value of subjects and ideas that contribute to intellectual growth and cultural enrichment.

If you want to become more pragmatic, try practicing on small, insignificant decisions first to build a foundation of confidence and routine. Eventually, you can apply this mindset to the bigger decisions in your life. The key is to be willing to take risks and trust your gut instinct. Then, you will have the confidence to know that your choices will be wise ones.