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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
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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.



MY CHILDREN are constantly playing word games. If I

try to tell them that they shouldn’t have done some­

thing, they say I never told them exactly that. They’re

starting to get on my nerves. ”

The Danger Point

Sometimes parents (and leaders) are tricked into accepting poor

performance by silver-tongued individuals who are infinitely

creative in coming up with new ways to explain why they didn’t

know any better. Not only do these inventive people have the

ability to conjure up creative excuses, but they also have the

energy and will to do so incessantly. Eventually they wear you

down. As a result, they get away with doing less or doing it




poorly, while hard-working, energetic family members (or employ­

ees) end up carrying an unfair share of the load.

The Solution

This is another case of pattern over instance. Tentatively STATE

the pattern of splitting hairs and playing word games. Let them

know they aren’t fooling anyone. In this case, don’t focus exclu­

sively on actions, because creative people can always find new

inappropriate actions. “You didn’t say I couldn’t call her ‘stu­

pid.”’ Talk about both behaviors and outcomes. “You’re hurting

your sister’s feelings when you call her stupid. Please don’t do

that, or anything else that might hurt her feelings.”

Use previous behavior as an example, and then hold them

accountable to results. Don’t get pulled into discussing any one

instance. Stick with the pattern.



I’VE GOT A LOT OF GOOD people working for me, but

they’re too full of surprises. When they run into prob­

lems, I only find out after it’s too late. They always

have a good excuse, so what should I do?”

The Danger Point

Leaders who are constantly being surprised allow it to happen.

The first time an employee says, “Sorry, but I ran into a prob­

lem,” the leaders miss the point. They listen to the problem,

work on it, and then move on to a new topic. In so doing, they

are saying: “It’s okay to surprise me. If you have a legitimate

excuse, stop what you’re doing, tum your efforts to something

else, and then wait until I show up to spring the news.”



YEAH. BUT 2 1 3

The Solution

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