Soft Skills: Respect

I’m sorry that you interpreted our discussion in the way that you did

I was recently the recipient of this statement. In the best case, it is frustration to hear or read this. In the worst case, it can be depressing and completely demoralizing. Let me provide a few examples with a little elaboration:

  • As a teacher:

I’m sorry that you didn’t understand what I was saying. It is only my job to talk at you and you are responsible for listening and figuring out the message I was intending to deliver.

  • As a consultant:

I’m sorry that you didn’t get what I explained. I do this on a daily basis and know so much. I also don’t have time to explain these things to you.

  • As a friend:

I’m sorry you didn’t interpret that conversation correctly. I was trying to help you to be a better person, but you couldn’t get over yourself enough to hear what I was saying.

  • As a potential employer:

I’m sorry you understood my statement incorrectly. I hold all the power here and you should be bowing to me to show that you are worthy of a job here.

  • As a boss:

I’m sorry you misunderstood my instructions. You should have listened better. I know exactly what I was saying and it is your fault you don’t.

Own It

When you decide to take on the task of explaining something, it has become your responsibility to ensure that all of the recipients correctly understand the message. If they don’t, it is YOUR FAULT. This may come as a news flash to some people, but there is no such thing as a mind reader. If you do not explain things in a way that people can understand, you are setting someone (or someones) up for failure.

Treat everyone with respect. Someday it will bite you.

James Habben