Monday, August 10, 2009

Say what we mean

At a recent staff event, some of my colleagues shared their ideas and thoughts on work-related matters.

I commented twice during that session. In response to two separate suggestions made by two colleagues.

After I spoke the second time, one senior colleague gently corrected me: "Don’t think of Buts and Ifs only”.

I realised, with a mild shock, that my responses sounded negative.

Which wasn't my intent, ironically.

I actually agreed with the suggestions made by the two colleagues. That was why I spoke up. Because I felt their ideas were worthy of further discussion.

Thinking back, it would have been better if I started with, “Good idea, and how's this to make it better…?”

Instead, what I uttered was saying this in effect: "The idea won’t work and let me tell you why…”

Not my exact words but that was probably the unintended message that people remembered.

Somewhere between the firing of my neurons and my vocal chords, I distorted my own message.

Ah, I’ve still got lots to learn.


  1. Sounds like the same problem that I am facing. :)

  2. Oh yeah.

    It's even worse on the Internet where people can comment easily without thinking.

    Sometimes, I catch myself giving out nonconstructive criticism. It takes constant reminder to adopt a positive and forward looking mentality.

  3. Heard of this?

    "Please say what you mean. Don't be mean in what you say".

    Kinda subtle remark, isn't it?

  4. Sounds so familiar, although I am usually more diplomatic in handling this. Its a part and parcel of managing people's feelings and expectations, as well as engendering a sense of ownership.

    The most important thing is really not about being right or wrong, but about being effective on a collective basis.

  5. One thing I try to do is whenever I catch myself saying 'but', I'll quickly substitute it with 'and'. Then I quickly try to reconstruct the rest of the sentence in the next few milliseconds to make the original point without the use of 'but', which seems to be a 'u-turn' word.. It's not easy but.. uh... and I guess it prevents the other people to feel 'buts and ifs'.. :)

  6. Heh, guess I'm not the only one who have this issue :)


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