shutterstock_241820503I’m really sorry to have to write this caution but be very, very careful what you say. Anyone can be offended by absolutely anything today.

You can present a six-hour workshop and say one word (and not even a bad word) and lose a portion of your audience because they disapprove of the word. You can have a fourteen-year friendship and say one comment that causes the person to never speak to you again. I know, I’ve done both.

Whose fault is this need to walk on eggshells with your words? Yours for saying it or them for being overly sensitive and judgmental. Both, I believe.

I take full responsibility when the wrong thing slips out of my mouth. I try to immediately apologize and rectify the situation. And I try not to repeat my mistake. Still I’ve made a mistake yesterday and I’ll likely make one today.

But I also try to rein in judgment when someone says something I dislike or disapprove of. I try to balance out how many good and “right” things they’ve said and done against the few missteps. And if it really is egregious and bothers me, I ask about it.

“Yesterday you said ______ and I’ve been wondering what was behind that comment?” is what I’d ask. I’d ask sooner rather than later. And if the person glosses over the answer unsatisfactorily or is unclear I’ll ask again. “Not sure if I fully understand, tell me more,” and a third time if necessary, “I just want to understand you’re thinking behind it.”

By bringing up the elephant in the room you get it cleared up (hopefully). And without giving them some of their own medicine you let them know something bothered you enough to bring up and clear up.

The thing you should not do is keep it inside, gunny sack it, hold it against them, shut down your listening, or turn off the relationship. It’s a waste for both of you.