I Sure Told Them…

By Jeff Justice, CSP

I stopped at a minimart for gas and a Coke on my way to the airport. I was standing behind a man at the counter — he was about my height but a big, muscular, workout kinda guy. He was trying to buy a pack of gum with a hundred dollar bill. The woman at the cash register gave him her best you’re an-idiot look and said, “I don’t have enough change for that.” And he snarled, “Well, go get it!” She said, “I can’t leave the register because the manager’s not here.”

The guy was really giving her a hard time. And finally she told him, “Do us both a favor and stand off to the side. Let me take care of the customer behind you because you’re holding him up.” I’m thinking, “Oh, great! Now Godzilla’s going to look at me.” He turned and said, “Hey, Mac, am I holding you up?” I was mad, and I said, “Yeah, pal, you are holding me up. As a matter of fact, you’ve been rude to this young lady. You apologize to her right now or I’m gonna take you outside and kick your tail!” Well, to myself I said that. To him I said, “Oh, no-o-o-o — take your time! I’ve got all day, pal. Boy, she’s got some snotty attitude, doesn’t she?”

“I shoulda said” conversations are what you “say” to others that they never hear because you say it to yourself instead. It’s what you tell your steering wheel on the way home from work that your boss never hears.

Sometimes, you work out your conversation before you ever have it with someone else. “When I say this, they will say that…and then I’ll this…then that jerk will say this and I’ll say that….” By the time you actually get into the conversation, you’ve developed a major attitude — and the other person hasn’t even opened his mouth yet!

Men do this all the time. They want to ask a girl to dance. They practice all the way over to her. But by the time they get there, they’ve already imagined what the girl will say. And what comes out of the guy’s mouth is, “Oh yeah? Well I wouldn’t dance with you if you were the last person on earth!”

You’ll beat yourself up less if you just say what you mean. Of course, others may beat you up more if you can’t find a less mean way to say it!


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