#19: “I didn’t do ____ because you never sent me the ____,” and other phrases I avoid
When I hear myself saying the following phrases, I realize I’ve not been clear in my thinking.
Dear friends and colleagues,
When I hear myself saying the following phrases, I realize I’ve not been clear in my thinking. I thought these might be useful to share…
One: “I didn’t do ________ because you never sent me the _______.”
Ex: “I didn’t submit the proposal because you never sent me the budget.”
Why: It’s blaming. Assumes that the other person has the same assumptions as you around project management, etc.
Try instead: “I’m realizing now that I was waiting for the budget from you to trigger me to submit the proposal. That was my assumption. I apologize.”
Why it’s hard: You think, “If I take full responsibility, they’re going to think it was all my fault. It wasn’t!”
Worth it because: You go first, gives the other person space to be self-aware of their responsibility, which is a better learning opportunity versus if you pointed it out and they got defensive. And if they don’t take responsibility, after repeated examples? That’s something to notice, and/or address. But it’s not your responsibility to change it.
Two: “I don’t mean to be rude but…”
Or: “I'm not trying to _____.”
Ex: “I’m not trying to make you feel bad.”
If I hear myself about to say such words, I’m aware that there could at least be a perception of rudeness/meanness in what I’m about to say. That in turn could signal that I’m angry with this person and/or disappointed with myself for trusting/believing/going along with them, etc.
What to do instead: I pause and try harder to not be rude. Express with politeness if I am indeed upset with them.
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Three: Want to lose credibility in a flash? Include these phrases in your argument:
“We have no choice but to...”
“Because of the simple fact that...”
“In my mind...”
Ex: “We have no choice but to vote for this bill because of the simple fact that it will save lives. In my mind any other course of action is wrong.”
Why: When I hear these phrases they signal that you are trying to convince me of something. But did you give any evidence or reasoning, or did you simply narrow in on the conclusion you are already committed to?
Few real life situations pivot on any one “simple fact.” Zeroing in on that is a narrowing of options.
A Twitter follower (follow me there!) questioned why “In my mind” is on my list here.
In my mind, that phrase is useful to the exact extent stated—it tells me one thing that is in your mind. I appreciate knowing that and it could be useful when used to uncover blindspots. But it’s not persuasive to my thinking in an argument.
What phrases do you notice signal sloppy thinking?
Did you enjoy today’s issue?
Please comment, or shoot me a reply!
Quill Nook Farm
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