How often have you stood there, searching for the right words to say to put the brakes on an unprofessional behaviour that was offensive or belittling and triggered your inner canary?
Chances are that (at least some of the time) you said something that made the situation worse. Or that you said nothing and then replayed the could’ve-should’ve record in your mind a million times.
So allow me to share with you a priceless phrase that will change all that. It’s a phrase that participants in my workplace incivility training sessions repeatedly say is helpful and practical. It serves them faithfully and can do so for you too. Whether you are a leader who wants to effectively (and respectfully) halt an unprofessional behaviour, or whether you are an employee dealing on the ground with a ‘sticky situation’ or an abrasive manager – this phrase will do the job.
And here’s some good news: because of the way this phrase is structured, it reduces the probability of the ‘offender’ getting unnecessarily defensive. Instead of finger-pointing, it implies that all involved are in the same boat, trying to do their best to behave well. It allows everyone involved to save face.
And here’s an even better piece of news: you’ll be able to easily recall this industrial-strength phrase anytime you really need it, because it comprises of only four simple words. It is simple, simple, and did I say – simple.
The next time someone engages in unprofessional behaviour that makes you feel uncomfortable (a racist joke, a harsh comment, a dismissive gesture), use these dependable words:
“Let’s not go there”.
It’s as simple as that. These four words will bring the behaviour to a halt without shaming or blaming. And you can walk away knowing that you did not go along with the behaviour or condone it.
Try it right now, on your own:
Think of two or three situations that you wish you had handled differently, then say the four words out-loud. You can experiment with being lighthearted or dead-serious. You can try different pitches (high? low?), or emphasize different words (“let’s not go THERE”, or maybe “let’s NOT go there”). Be quick as lightening, or slow as molasses…. you get the idea.
Are you ready? Okay then. Go ahead: “Let’s not go there”.