|It's how she said it that made me so mad. We've all had that experience at one time or another. It's amazing how one's choice of words can help resolve a sticky situation or turn a mundane situation into a real battle. Certain approaches trigger an emotional reaction that may not have anything to do with the subject matter.
The following phrases as adapted from Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith's book, Resolving Conflicts at Work, increase the possibility of provoking anger and resentment.
|This Approach||Comes Across As|
|"You have to."
"You will ."
|"If you don't."
"You better or else."
|"You ought to."
"It's only right that you should."
|"Here's what you should do."
"It'd be best if you."
|"You started this mess."
"You won't listen."
|"You're just trying to get attention."
"What you need is."
When denying a request or delivering bad news, it is especially important to plan our words. Familiarity with a particular policy or procedure can unconsciously breed a pointed response to inquiries. For example, during new student days, several staff members are point people for giving directions. They might have to answer the same question 30 or more times a day! How many times a day do you think visitors ask the people in Admission for direction? Wouldn't it be easy to rattle off the directions quickly without great concern? Think about how you can best communicate the information so that the receiver can walk away feeling positive about the interaction.