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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 .




The Solution

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




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.

The Solution

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.


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