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Curiosity - Patronizing or Authentic?

Words are fascinating things. The same words strung together can come across in more than one way.

Think of a simple phrase and put the emphasis on different words or use a different tone of voice as you say the phrase. What changes in the meaning as you change emphasis and/or tone?

What we often mean in our minds can come out as authentic or it can come across as patronizing. Our EGO can have a lot to do with what we say, how we say it and how it is perceived. Our EGO can also react to what comes back at us when we feel our intent was authentic and our words were interpreted differently than we intended.

When our intent is questioned, at times we may become patronizing and say:

'Oh, get over yourself.'

'Man, can't you hear what I just said?'

'It's not all about you, you know.'

or some variation that focuses on protecting ourselves.

We may even just walk away and leave the conversation and each other hanging in mid-air with no where to land.


When our intent is questioned, we may focus on believing the best, being curious in our search to understand. Using non-offensive clarifying questions that help us to see what we may have missed. We may say something like:

'Hmmm, I never thought of it that way, can you tell me more?'

'Wow! That is interesting, can you help me understand a little bit more?'

'I never thought about it that way. Give me some time to think about what you said and I will get back to you.'

Or choose a non-defensive phrase that allows you to hear what you have not heard and to speak with grace which then provides an open invitation for further conversation.

Pursue great and curious conversations!

Check out What-if Leadership Journal on now available in paperback and Ebook.

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1 Comment

You've taught me to incorporate that way of speaking and when I speak that way, it's opened good conversations that provide insight and openings for grace and a way of honouring each other.

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