During a trip to the dentist for some work on a crown, I was sitting comfortably in the chair. As my dentist got to work, she said “OK, I am going to start now; don’t swallow the crunchy stuff”.
Talking to some clients, I was recently reminded how important this simple truth can be. It occurs to me this could be good advice when confronted with challenging and perhaps even adversarial people. As a dialogue develops, things can escalate. Feelings can get hurt. It is often easy to get away from the issues at hand and, instead, get worked up over the personal violation we feel. Aspects of the exchange take new shape and can get out of control.
During a conversation or confrontation, things get said. Often what we hear is not really what the other person said. Yet we process the words one way or another, sometimes taking offense. If we fully swallow the negative message whether actual or perceived, we get this bad feeling in our gut. I recommend you “not swallow that crunchy stuff”. What does that mean? Well, let your processing of the words happen well away from any emotional connection. Try to be as objective as possible.
The processing may sound something like this:
- Did they really say that?
- Hmmm, that seems unusual coming from them.
- That can’t be what they meant.
- Or even, I refuse to accept that message.
I suggest to you “don’t swallow the crunchy stuff”. Do not accept threats, name calling, and other trigger words that can set off bad feelings. Stay focused on the task or matter at hand. Do not let another person suck you into a battle of words over ideas or comments that should not be in the discussion.
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