Note: This originally appeared as a client e-letter.
December 23, 2014
Dear Clients and Colleagues:
The subject line that you just read was a request made during a meeting in late November. It wasn’t coincidence that the request came from one of my most admired figures. After putting the words to the test both through my own usage and discussion with others, here are some short burst takeaways that may be worth application in your world:
1.) First, note the language. This person didn’t say, “Give me an example,” or “Sorry, could you restate what you just said?” He said, “say that again — a different way.” The command was refreshing during a time of over-pleasing, equivocation and political correctness. It’s almost as if we have forgotten how to speak to each other without watering down substance out of fear that someone may misinterpret what’s being said. Or worse yet expose publicly. Perish the thought! Everything is public now in case you haven’t noticed.
2.) When you read the statement, “say that again, a different way” aloud, does it convict you to respond differently without pausing? Of course not. It takes all of us a minute to collect our thoughts. During my experience with this command, no matter how a response was rephrased, it fell short in my mind and heart. What this rhetorical device does require is being able to think on your feet, which in this case, were literally dangling underneath the chair.
3.) Last point from a leadership point of view. Are you willing to answer the same question directly with conviction without equivocation? The easiest way to lose credibility is to repeat the same response when given this command so don’t do that. Practice makes perfect here. No better time to try than during the holiday season, a natural time of reflection. Try it out on your children, or for those who would prefer a non-verbal response, your dog or family pet.
Thanks for your support this year, and to all those still reading and stirring, may you have a good night and great holiday season. Merry Christmas,