Silence Does the Heavy Lifting

courageous impact tips meetings Feb 05, 2023

by Aubrey Patterson


Do you have someone on your team that always chooses negativity and who can't help but bring any room to the lowest common denominator?

You know, the kind of person that you always love, but can be really challenging to like?

Silence does the heavy lifting

Trying times certainly lead to even more corrosive behaviors, but of course, we need to rise above the moment and choose compassion for someone who is obviously struggling.

Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke. - Benjamin Disraeli

We have a lot of options when such a person isn't in-person, as we can more easily choose to walk away from an email or phone call before responding or even have tools like prewritten scripts to quickly employ.

But when someone is right in front of us and seemingly enjoying the negative spotlight, how do we respond?

Sure, we know that arguing with a fool only makes two, but equally important guiding principles are if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything and what you tolerate sets the bar.  

So what do we do while the seconds tick away and that challenging person watches intently to see if we flinch?

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. - Helen Keller

A warm demander strategy paired with a smile

Whether we are leading a small team or working with a large staff, we can respond warmly and firmly with a little preparation and practice. Create a short, catchy, and easily remembered response that can be delivered with a smile. 

Yes, with a smile.

If we don't choose a calm voice and smile, our face and voice will go on autopilot and expose how we're really feeling.

'Thank you for sharing, (name). I'm going to take a little time and think about what you've said. I'll get back to you tomorrow because I'm not sure my response today will be what I want it to be when I think back on this next week.' 

Not only do we avoid the bait, but we also buy ourselves a little time and pass that discomfort back where it belongs. 

And often, that negative friend will nervously stop by later, with a more positive disposition, to make sure everything is ok. 

Just like in teaching, silence and a little wait time can do a lot of our heavy lifting. 



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