One of the ways that I help manage myself through difficult situations is by relying on prepared phrases that I have developed. Rather than getting into an awkward predicament and then having to think of something elegant and appropriate on the spot, I can rely on my pre-planned phrases to handle things calmly and professionally. This is one of my favorite tried and trues:
You’ve given me a lot to think about.
I use this phrase when someone has overloaded me with information or, more often than not, complaints. I recognize that the person clearly wants me to do something with what they have said, but I’m not ready to take action yet. In many cases, I need time to process what I have heard and to consider my options. Sometimes I’ll even follow this phrase up with a commitment to talk again in the future to make it clear that I’m not trying to brush the other person off but don’t want to engage further in that moment. When I say, “You’ve given me a lot to think about,” I do three things:
- Acknowledge that they have given me something that I value (their feedback and perspective)
- Commit to considering what they have told me (because I’ve agreed to think about it)
- Eliminate the pressure on myself in the moment (by making it clear that I intend to think before I proceed)
Like an actor, sometimes it’s best to run your practiced lines rather than ad-lib through a difficult situation.