If you toss a group a grenade…they will run for cover.
Starting a conversation with accusations or anger is akin to tossing a grenade into a room and expecting people to want to play “catch.”
No matter how valuable your insight or how accurate your concern, the act of grenade tossing will result in people not hearing you because they’re consumed with ducking for cover.
In talking to a client about his accusatory behavior he stated, “But the grenade isn’t real. I’m just trying to make a point!”
Maybe so, but the receiver has no way of knowing how “real” the grenade is, so they’ll assume it’s lethal.
We recently saw this when we were brought in to support a board during a challenging time. The board shared difficult financial news with an explanation of how it came to be, and they noted that a follow-up meeting was planned to discuss the situation further.
One of the board members believed, and was correct, that they were missing a key point but instead of bringing that to the attention of the group with respect and calm he responded by disparaging the integrity of the other board members.
And, as you would expect two things happen when you toss a grenade, people leave the room – even if they remain at the table – and others will fight back.
As a result, no one could work with the point the grenade-tosser was making.
One of the lessons we teach leaders—and anyone who struggles with anger—is how to PAUSE before they speak so that what they’re about to say is in alignment with their goal. If their goal is to be heard, then Pausing to take the anger out of their leading sentence will increase their chances of being listened to.
If you think that your message is getting buried beneath the rubble of a grenade then we encourage you to practice the PAUSE. Getting your message heard can be a challenge in the best of circumstances; don’t hinder yourself by wrapping it in explosive language.
In this day and age when people seem to be swift to anger, we invite you to foster your curiosity and see if you can invite others to do the same.
We’re here for you,
~Linda, Stephanie, and Heather