(This is Part 6 in the “Repeat After Me” series. Read Part 5 Here)
I was with a group of leaders not long ago when someone made one of those exaggerated “There’s nothing worse than…” statements. We hear a lot of those in conversation, and I’m not always sure what the pecking order should be. I mean, there’s gotta be something worse than what they just said.
Nothing Worse Than…
Anyway, the guy said, “There’s nothing worse than unmet expectations.” Fair enough. We don’t like to be disappointed, and we don’t like it when we disappoint others. When interpersonal disappointment occurs trust can be violated. It can be awkward.
Keeping with the theme of awkwardness, how about a phrase that helps you give clarity or gain clarity when needed? Say, “I need to get something straight”. It’s a very nimble set of words worthy of repeating, and its context normally will determine the tact and tone of your delivery.
Context is Crucial
Say this when something is unclear to you. Perhaps the context of the situation–or the delivery or stature of someone–intimidates you, and you’re hesitant to rock the boat. Be the brave one in the room and press this with a mild look of bewilderment. “I need to get something straight.” Use your non-offensive mildly quizzical look.
Say this when you need to bring clarity to someone else. You may have been misunderstood, or you may have just communicated poorly. “I need to get something straight. I’m totally excited for you.”
Say this as an onramp to apologizing. You may have let someone down–failed to meet expectations– and you need to step into a place of sincere humility. “I need to get something straight” is a great way to begin. (Note: Do not use this to defend yourself!) Use this with humility.
Say this as an offer for someone else to apologize to you. On occasion you need to bring challenge to someone who has behaved poorly. With the hope of not having the chasm grow any wider you can say, “I need to get something straight, I was really feeling offended.”
Say this when you need to set boundaries. Perhaps your boundaries have been violated, and you want to set them with clarity. “Hey, I need to get something straight. I’m committed to being generous, but you can’t count on me to routinely bail you out.” Or, “I need to get something straight. I’m accepting of your behavior, but I’m not approving of it.”
There you have it. A good phrase to have in your toolkit, one worth repeating.