In a recent session with a one-on-one client, we were talking about her compulsion to correct and straighten people out. She is a brilliant woman who is analytical by nature, reads a lot and thinks fast. She shared how annoyed she sometime gets when people make statements that are contrary to known facts, mispronounce or misuse words. So, she felt that her duty was to stop people and let them know the error in their statement. I could totally identify with her, because at one time I too suffered from the same impulses. I felt to rectify another’s errors was a wonderful service to offer.
My eyes were opened many years ago after reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. He talks about allowing others to save face. He encourages us to stop and think before we offer our brilliance. In other words, is this a situation where there is something to be gained by making a correction?
For example I have three daughters; their names are Asia, Milan and Paris. When people hear their names many will comment, “Oh you named them all after countries.” Well the truth of the matter is, Asia is a continent and Milan and Paris are cities. However, is it really necessary to halt their amusement in their observation and give them a geography lesson? How is my correction going to make them feel? Some people may feel embarrassed or even resent me after correcting them. Is that worth it? Funny how sometimes people really are not interested in knowing the facts, the correct word or proper pronunciation; their satisfaction is derived from expressing themselves. So let’s not take that away from them.
For some of us, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to restrain ourselves. Here is a strategy, stop and consider whether your input is really going to add value. What are your true motives behind the amendment? Are you being driven by your ego, do you just want others to know that you are more knowledgeable? Given the circumstances, is your interjection going to lift that person or pull them down in some way? Are they going to leave your presence feeling good about themselves, or demeaned? If there is no real redemption other than to make yourself feel superior, close your lips and swallow, say nothing.
If it is something that absolutely needs to be addressed, tread empathetically. Do not steal their thunder in the moment. Pick a more appropriate time and be sure it is just the two of you. Ground them in a sincere compliment first. Highlight and acknowledge something they can be proud of regarding themselves. Then add your input by using a connecting word like and.
For example, “That was a brilliant speech you delivered yesterday, you really had the audience engaged, and next time just remember irregardless is not a word.”
Avoid the word but, it erases all previous statements. So you don’t want to say, “Great speech, but irregardless is not a word.” Do you feel the difference?
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Kim Welcome CEO of
Influential Voice works with progressive companies and individuals who
are concerned that unrefined communication skills may be hindering their
growth and advancement. She helps them to increase their power to
influence for greater productivity and impact. For more info visit www.influentialvoice.com. For a Free Speech & Voice Evaluation email firstname.lastname@example.org.