An Ounce of Prevention talked about keeping arguments from developing. What about when “someone else starts it.” Sometimes you are the one who is the “you” in someone else’s blame game. Then what?

Four itty bitty words. Very difficult to say in many situations, but very simple words: You May Be Right. Think about these words. They don’t say that the other person IS right, only that they MAY be right. It doesn’t say you are wrong, only that the possibility exists that the other person may be right.

Learn to keep the focus off the problem and on to the solution. Blame and defensiveness keep the focus on the problem. Once you offer “You may be right,” the next step is to move toward a solution. For example:

  • Missed a meeting and are being accused of being disorganized?
    • “You may be right. My calendar says we were meeting at 3p rather than 2p. Can we reschedule the meeting to next week?”
  • Surprised when your spouse brings a friend home for dinner and accuses you of forgetting that he told you?
    • “You may be right. My memory was that you were going bowling. Do you prefer delivery pizza or Chinese food?”

“You may be right” is NOT the correct response in every situation. If someone accuses me of stealing money from the company, I’m going to defend myself! This is reserved for those occasions when you are trying to keep minor irritations from developing into major problems. Will it always lower the flame? No. Sadly, some people just like to be confrontational. But every confrontation takes at least two people to keep it going. At any point in the confrontation, you can decide to walk away. Sometimes walking away starts with “You may be right.”

May you always look great!

Pat Roland, CTIC