What To Do When, Yes, They Did Just Say That

You said what?

Sometimes others say or do things that confound us. It is usually some assertion we think is wrong, hurtful, or ignorant. To be polite or because we just couldn’t think of anything to say in the moment, we remain quiet, change the topic, or pretend to ignore what just happened and keep going.

We then spend hours or days seething, worrying, or trying to figure out what to do in response.

Here’s a better way. First, we calm down and raise our buzz so we’re in the best head space. Then we go back and say, “I’ve been thinking about our conversation.” We next either ask a question to clarify or express a concern. Then we make a request like, “Would you be willing to…(some new behavior)?” or “Would you be willing to work with me to figure out a better way?”

We can pretty much always go back.


In your corner,


PS: Some examples. Note the win-win tone.

  • “When you said we should fire Tim, was that because you were thinking he had embarrassed the company and may do it again? Would you be willing to consider a less drastic solution?”
  • “I have a concern. You said that I should stop working on this project because other projects are suffering. I think this is a problem because our clients are already worried that we won’t finish this work on time. Would you be willing to work on a plan with me that addresses the clients’ expectations and pushes forward the other projects?”
  • “When you make bold, angry arguments, I feel frustrated because you appear unwilling to hear my side. Would you be willing to take turns listening and feeding back what we each heard before pressing our points?”


Today’s photo credit: jev55 via photopin cc

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