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  • Choose Carefully as Your Words Brand You

    I’m really sorry to have to write this caution but be very, very careful what you say. Any one can be offended by absolutely any thing today.

    You can present a six-hour workshop and say one word (and not even a bad word) and lose a portion of your audience because they disapprove of the word. You can have a fourteen-year friendship and say one comment that causes the person to never speak to you again. I know, I’ve done both.

    Whose fault is this need to walk on eggshells with your words? Yours for saying it or them for being overly sensitive and judgmental. Both, I believe.

    I take full responsibility when the wrong thing slips out of my mouth. I try to immediately apologize and rectify the situation. And I try not to repeat my mistake. Still I’ve made a mistake yesterday and I’ll likely make one today.

    But I also try to rein in judgment when someone says something I dislike or disapprove of. I try to balance out how many good and “right” things they’ve said and done against the few missteps. And if it really is egregious and bothers me, I ask about it.

    “Yesterday you said ______ and I’ve been wondering what was behind that comment?” is what I’d ask. I’d ask sooner rather than later. And if the person glosses over the answer unsatisfactorily or is unclear I’ll ask again. “Not sure if I fully understand, tell me more,” and a third time if necessary, “I just want to understand you’re thinking behind it.”

    By bringing up the elephant in the room you get it cleared up (hopefully). And without giving them some of their own medicine you let them know something bothered you enough to bring up and clear up.

    The thing you should not do is keep it inside, gunny sack it, hold it against them, shut down your listening, or turn off the relationship. It’s a waste for both of you.

    D.A. (Debra) Benton has been helping great individuals and organizations get even better for over 20 years. Just as exceptional athletes rely on excellent coaching to hone their skills, Debra's clients rely on her advice to advance their careers. She focuses on what is truly important to convert what you and your organization want to be from a vision into a reality. TopCEOCoaches.com ranks her in the World's Top 10 CEO Coaches noting she is the top female. And as conference keynote speaker she is routinely rated in the top 2%. Her client list reads like a “Who's Who” of executives in companies ranging from Microsoft, McDonald's, Kraft, American Express, Merrill Lynch, United Airlines, and PricewaterhouseCoopers to the Washington Beltway and U.S.Border Patrol. *She is the author of ten award-winning and best-selling business books including The Virtual Executive and CEO Material. She has written for the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company. She has been featured in USA Today, Fortune, The New York Times, and Time; she has appeared on Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, and CBS with Diane Sawyer. To learn more Debra advising leaders, coaching, facilitating a workshop, or speaking: www.debrabenton.com

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