Summer is almost over. Frankly, I enjoy stretching the “untangling money” frame of this blog a bit more in the summer, so here’s a last hurrah. The topic is something my clients and I often talk about. It comes up when they have a weird client, a grumpy mate, a looming conflict. It’s the “Jane, you ignorant slut” temptation…
Remember the classic SNL ‘Point/Counter Point’
routines of Jane Curtain and Dan Aykroyd? Every time he had a comeback or retort, it started with “Jane, you ignorant slut“. It’s a great example of bullying and playing nasty. It’s also a clear example of how NOT to engage in a discussion. The thing that makes it so amusing is the way that Dan delivers this slur in such a neutral, matter of fact tone, as if he’s just stating a simple fact.
Many of our grandmothers, mine included, talked about “catching more flies with honey than you could with vinegar” and I agree, with modifications. Often what they meant, for us girls, was that we should be “sweet” and “modest”…hmmm. That really translated to something more like manipulating others to our way. Sometimes this was effective, but it was never respectful, was it?
Respect is an important component in any relationship. A primary way to achieve that is to keep the disagreement from becoming personal. If we all refrain from slinging mud or attacking someone else’s character, then we might actually get to the issue and get something resolved.
Most people use one of these two options during a conflict or disagreement:
Blame: This one starts with the equivalent of “Jane, you ignorant slut“. It’s full of judgement, criticism and attacks on personality and character.
Complaint: This is a clear, simple statement of the issue, hopefully without emotional hooks attached. You can express how you feel but you’ll be sliding over to the Blame model if you somehow imply that those feelings are the other person’s fault. It’s that old “I” statement model. You make statements about yourself instead about the other person. For example, “I felt left out.” rather than “You ignored me.”
There are a couple of really helpful things to remember in any challenging conversation:
It’s not about you: Yep, even if it sounds like it is, it’s probably not. It may be that you didn’t do what the other person wanted or expected but it’s not about you personally. So before having the conversation, repeat “It’s not about me” to yourself about five times and then do that again.
You are probably making assumptions: We all do that. We assume that the person meant this or that. For example: Many of my clients will assume that the person is going to complain about the cost of something, so they start discounting before they even bring up the price. It’s this thing in their head. They are trying to stop something that might not happen and in the process perpetuating an idea that probably isn’t even true. If you just stated your fee (without a discount) and they complained, you could handle that, couldn’t you? (Ah, yet another blog topic, popping up for next time. Well, look at that! I still managed to make this blog about money…wow!)
The bottom line here is to resist the “Jane, you ignorant slut” temptation and keep it calm and neutral. Try it. I’ll bet you get better results with honey, honey.
I’m here to help you untangle your money knots. Give me a call at 503.258.1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Shell Tain, The Untangler