We’re looking at one of the most common dumb things most people do most of the time. When “A” offends “B”, A rushes to A’s defense, pleading that, after all, A’s intentions were innocent. B just took it wrong and B got hurt. End of discussion!

This is dumb because in A’s self-focused concern to clear himself, A left the injury—and the injured party (i.e. B) unaddressed.

If A was hoping for restoration of relationship, this strategy is just plain dumb!

If I’m smart, I’ll attend to my impact, not my intention.

62 judgmentalRecently, while leading a workshop I was bemoaning “bait and switch” tactics employed by some churches. They show up to do some form of community service then to use it to buttonhole people with religious arguments and promote the church they attend.

When the “switch” is thrown, people are offended. 


62 bait and switchTo illustrate the impact of bait and switch, I described a time Annie and I were invited to dinner at the home of an admired minister. When the conversation awkwardly turned to a multi-level marketing “opportunity” they discerned was ideal for us, their true motivations were revealed.

We felt hurt, manipulated, and used.

During the break, a workshop participant angrily challenged the negative light I’d cast on the MLM I’d mentioned—a business to which he and his wife had devoted decades.  I had so offended her that she’d left, humiliated and angry. I should be more careful about what I say!

Impulsively, I explained that I’d simply shared a story whose details were true. I’d done nothing to disparage his particular MLM. I’d simply shared the facts as they occurred. About this time, I began to notice him.

I could see that my defense had accomplished nothing in assuaging his anger, addressing his hurt, or communicating concern for his still-absent spouse.

In an instant, my heart cracked. “Please forgive me … I am so sorry to have been so thoughtless! I should never have named the business—it was completely unnecessary for that illustration. I was terribly insensitive!! I can only imagine how much I hurt your wife and you. You’ve given so much to build your business, and I come traipsing into your town and trash your reputation in front of your friends!!”  Now, with tears welling up: “Could you forgive me, please?”

What happened next has occurred so many times when I’ve blundered like this and then attended to my impact.

We became close.

The ‘breakdown’ between us became an opening for intimacy. I invited him to tell me more about how my words impacted him. He talked about the care they’d taken to grow their business with integrity, to honor Christ in all their dealings, and to be honest with everyone along the way. Graciously, he forgave me. We shared laughter, hugs, and tears.

We reconciled.

62 summitDuring the next session I addressed the whole room: confessing my insensitivity, admitting that the way I told the story could hurt people and cast aspersions on anyone in that business.

Owning my impact honestly and authentically brought us closer than if I’d never made the mistake in the first place.

See, a relational breakdown is an opening for intimacy.



Coaching distinctions #62.doc