REGRETTING SAYING SOMETHING HORRIBLE
nYEAH, BUT …
SOMETIMES I LET A PROBLEM go for a long time, and
then when I bring it up, I say something just awful.
How do I recover from this?”
The Danger Point
When other people do things that bother us, and then we tell
ourselves a story about how they’re bad and wrong, we’re setting
ourselves up for an unhealthy conversation. Of course, when we
tell ourselves an ugly story and then sit on it, it only gets worse.
Stories left unattended don’t get better with time-they ferment.
Then, when we eventually can’t take it anymore, we say some
thing we regret .
2 1 0 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
First, don’t repress your story. Use your STATE skills early on,
before the story turns too ugly. Second, if you have let the prob
lem build, don’t hold the crucial conversation while angry. Set
aside a time when you can discuss it in a calm fashion. Then,
using your STATE skills, explain what you’ve seen and heard,
and tentatively tell the most simple and least offensive story.
“The way you just told me that our neighbor thinks I’m a real
idiot has me worried. You smiled and laughed when you said it.
I’m beginning to wonder if you take pleasure in running to me
with negative feedback. Is that what’s going on?”
If you do say something horrible-“You’re cruel, you know
that? You love to hurt me and I’m sick of it” -apologize. You
can’t uming the bell, but you can apologize. Then STATE Your
TOUCHY AND PERSONAL
WHAT IF SOMEONE has a hygiene problem? Or maybe
someone’s boring and people avoid him or her. How
could you ever talk about something personal and
sensitive like that?”
The Danger Point
Most people avoid sensitive issues like the plague. Who can blame
them? Unfortunately, when fear and misapplied compassion rule
over honesty and courage, people can go for years without being
given information that could be extremely helpful.
When people do speak up, they often leap from silence to vio
lence. Jokes, nicknames, and other veiled attempts to sneak in
vague feedback are both indirect and disrespectful. Also, the
YEAH, BUT 2 1 1
longer you go without saying anything, the greater the pain when
you finally deliver the message.
Use Contrasting. Explain that you don’t want to hurt the person’s
feelings, but you do want to share something that could be help
ful. Establish Mutual Purpose. Let the other person know your
intentions are honorable. Also explain that you’re reluctant to
bring up the issue because of its personal nature, but since the
problem is interfering with the person’s effectiveness, you really
must. Tentatively describe the problem. Don’t play it up or pile
it on. Describe the specific behaviors and then move to solu
tions. Although these discussions are never easy, they certainly
don’t have to be offensive or insulting.