Have you ever shared something out loud and it came out in such a way that you offended someone, but were not aware of the horrible impact you had? I have, and it was not until I began noticing that I was being “put in my place” over and over again, or when word began filtering back to me that it had been discussed by others.
Sadly, what was said was never meant to come off as condescending or rude, but the judgement stuck. Before someone made an effort to get to know me, to learn about my heart, before anyone even tried to cull from me the actual meaning of what I was trying to convey, the words were judged, shared, and shared again.
In the end I was made to feel ostracized and ignored. No amount of good-effort on my part will likely change the opinion I had given them with two poorly worded sentences. They will never know how much I admire their talents, their contributions to their work or how much I wish to learn from them.
The personal brand had been set, the path drawn and the relationship skewed.
My fault for not choosing my words more consciously, for allowing some things going on in my personal life to cloud my ability to say what I really meant, and for uttering sentences that poorly described what I was trying to convey.
Yes. Lesson learned, think first, and speak later.
But I have to wonder what makes us so afraid to say;
“Are you aware how what you just said made me feel? That I felt lessened by those words?”
Oh how different things might have been! How easily I could have been given an opportunity to right the sentences, to utter what I really meant. What a lovely opportunity I would have been given to build a relationship rather than be branded.
Our words matter – mine did and I must live with that. But actions matter too.
Dealing with ‘difficult people’ is never easy, but it is swiftly accomplished if you are first willing to approach the ‘difficult’ person directly.
Leadership lessons for me:
- What I say and how I say it matters, always.
- Try to address the person making uncomfortable statements first.
All of us are both easy to get along with or difficult to get along with, depending on the audience, what one is going through, or the environment in which they find themselves.
Have you ever wished you could take back words that were conveyed in a way you never meant to convey them?
Patti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations for engaged and successful change, guiding leaders and their organizations toward mastery and leadership through change management advising, coaching, innovation, facilitation, process review and efficiency.
You can reach us at 1-855-968-5323