It’s All in How You Say It

by on January 25, 2017

It’s All in How You Say It

Boy shoutingBack in 1980 I became involved in an activity that has become an annual ritual in my life to this day. 17 other men and myself, started our own fantasy football league. While fantasy sports have become very popular in today’s culture, when we started our league few understood the nuances of what we were doing. There were no internet sites to keep track of statistics. All our communication was done through the US mail or the telephone. I doubt that any of us imagined that our league would still be operational 37 years later.

Many of the original participants still take part. We have seen young children of those participating grow into adults and have children of their own. One of our current participants is one of those children. Many of us have moved from full time working adults into 2nd career or retirees.

When something lasts as long as our league, one usually knows there is a special chemistry among the participants. In the case of this group it is the looking forward at the end of summer to get together to conduct our annual draft, renew acquaintances, and have an activity that makes our football watching on autumn Sundays a little more entertaining. We never did play for much money in terms of prizes. Our intent was never to get rich off of each other. It was simply to have our own enjoyment to supplement watching a sport that we loved.

Recently we ended our 37th season. And, unfortunately it ended on a sour note. One participant was frustrated at a group of participants for possibly not giving their utmost attention to the league, making it easier for a fellow participant to win their last game of the season and move to our playoff round. Comments were made that were direct attacks on the integrity of the participants that appeared not to have done their best. In this age of email, soon notes were going back and forth with other participants taking sides. Those participants who were not involved in the controversy, were stunned to see the comments that were going back and forth. For now it appears everything has calmed down. Frankly, we may not know until the end of next summer if cooler heads will prevail over the course of time.

The moral in all of this is, it is not only sometimes what you say, but how you say it. The participant who experienced the initial frustration, was correct to share his views. And, while those with whom he had issue may have not been happy that he was frustrated, they would not have felt as vulnerable as they did if the words delivered were not personal attacks on their integrity.

Interestingly enough, during this same time period, I was introduced to a coaching program in a discipline known as “Conversational Intelligence.” While I decided not to pursue the actual coaching program, I was intrigued enough to buy the original book the author wrote on the topic. I am at the beginning of my reading, so it will be awhile to incorporate what I learn in my coaching, my writings and my own life. However, even having not gotten that far, let me share a few simple thoughts for now.

Think before you speak, (or put something in writing to another). Is what you are conveying a message or a personal attack? What may be the perspective of the other person? Are you able to word what you are saying to elicit a response from them where you are willing to hear what they have to say, and be willing to listen to their viewpoint? Even in the best of relationships, strains can occur and emotions can run high. Our communication, and the way we present it, can either help us get through a situation or lead it to an outcome that leads to hurt feelings which never get repaired.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dee N. Tran January 31, 2017 at 9:02 am

My new year resolution is to LISTEN more than I talk. I will learn more when I listen. It is difficult for me because I love to talk. But I notice I am getting better each week. I am being more mindful. I will remember your points—think before I speak. Thank you for your great reminder, Tony!


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