The conversation usually goes something like this.
“You didn’t consult me about (pick a subject).”
“I thought you didn’t care.”
“Whatever gave you that idea?”
“That’s what you said.”
“When did I say that?”
And it goes on and on from there.
Want to put an end to this familiar script? Try a specific example.
“I thought I was consulting you when I asked if it was alright to buy steak instead of ground beef. Do you remember that?” Or, “Did you experience that as ‘consulting’ you?”
We can’t correct what we can’t identify. By using examples, we reduce the emotional energy in the conversation. When we use examples, we can test to see if we share common ground, and if not, find it by further refining the examples.
Most importantly, we give ourselves the perspective to step back and look at the situation together rather than as opponents.
So, next time you are tempted to use a generalization, don’t. Be specific.