When You Say the “Wrong” Thing

Okay, we’ve all said the “wrong” thing with certain people.

If you’re like us, at the time you found out it was the wrong thing…

Either because of their reaction or because you were later told it was wrong to say what you did…

You might have wondered this…

“Why would ANYONE think it was the wrong thing to say?

There might have been all kinds of things going on with that other person like…

*They were emotionally overwhelmed or ashamed about something not even related to you

*They didn’t feel safe about revealing themselves to you or anyone about the topic

*They thought you shouldn’t talk about the topic

*They didn’t trust they’d be heard by you if they were honest

And many other reasons only known to them

There might have been things going on with you…

*You may have had an agenda that involved you proving you were “right” even though you didn’t intend it to sound that way

*You may have jumped in with a well-meaning suggestion when the person didn’t ask

*You may have brought up an old topic that you haven’t been able to agree on, thinking if you bring it up once again and maybe stress your points, they’d get it (but they didn’t)

Or many other emotions you might have

The only reason a person would be upset, hurt, or bothered by something someone else said is that…

He or she is protecting or defending some idea that is painful for them to explore or talk about.

Recently, a woman who’s a friend told us this story of how she said the “wrong” thing and upset her daughter-in-law.

Her daughter-in-law had a problem with an aspect of her business finances and asked her father who’s a banker for help.

In passing, our friend’s husband told her about the problem and our friend, who had been an accountant before she retired, had a suggestion for her daughter-in-law.

You can probably guess what happened next…

Our friend texted the suggestion to her daughter-in-law who immediately was triggered and upset.

She told her dad that this was confidential information (even though she hadn’t told him that) and she didn’t want to get any more financial suggestions from our friend.

Of course our friend was upset because her intention had been to just help.

Here’s what she learned from this situation about saying the “wrong” thing…

1. Don’t make assumptions

–That they want help

–That they feel safe with you, especially around this topic

–That they are in an emotional state to hear your suggestion or question

2. Ask if the person wants help or advice

Your question can be something like this…

“Would you like some help with that?”

3. Don’t be in a hurry to fix or get your agenda across

Sometimes you miss the warning signs and sometimes there aren’t any that tell you this isn’t the best time to connect with your agenda or suggestion.

When you slow down and ask, you’ll get a better feel if your suggestion or question will be welcome or not.

Saying the “wrong” thing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting or pulling back from the relationship.

If you feel an apology would be helpful, do that.

Sometimes an apology isn’t wanted or beneficial for the relationship.

When you listen to others with a loving heart, you’ll know the answer.

If you have a “sticky” situation you’d like some help with, contact us here..

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