When what you say has the opposite effect

On another forum, Stan Washington, a US-based specialist in ‘resume’ writing recently made a plea for people who are speaking to people looking for their next Senior Executive job, to avoid saying “Don’t be frustrated!” It’s a classic example of someone saying something, usually with a positive intention, and yet it provokes the opposite reaction in the person they are addressing.

In the UK there is a radio programme dedicated to those with disabilities, entitled “Does he take sugar?” So named, because almost every disabled person can relate to being talked ‘over’ by people to any able-bodied person with them.

Then, in the 1970s, there was the comedy TV programme, called “Dad’s Army” which was about the Home Guard during the Second World War. A particular character (an elderly butcher who had served in both the Boer War and WW1) had a catch phrase, “Don’t Panic!” when, of course, he was!

But the one that has always made me laugh was the training given until very recently to beach Lifeguards (aka Rescue Swimmers), to approach a victim in the water, and if the person tries to grab them for safety to back off saying; “DON’T do that! If you do that again, I shalln’t be able to save you!”

So often, what we say has quite the opposite effect!

Best wishes

PS My Business Book of the Week is What got you here won’t get you there” by Marshall Goldsmith (04/09/10)

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