The Nuances of Interpersonal Effectiveness Series, #3: What You Mutter Matters

Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 20, Issue No. 3a
July 1, 2021

By Dan Coughlin


Sometimes a person will say to me, “I can’t stand working with that other person, but it never shows. I keep my thoughts to myself.”

To which I usually reply, “It’s almost impossible to keep your thoughts hidden all the time. Eventually they find their ways out. Be on the alert as to what you are about to say or do.”

What you mutter matters. If you are keeping negative thoughts within yourself about other people and their past decisions and actions, eventually you might start talking to yourself and make comments under your breath. Those comments can be devastating to a relationship.

Entering into an interpersonal interaction is like stepping onto the field of play in a game or onto a theatrical stage. Once you are on the field or stage, everything you do and say matters. Even if you are gracious and kind when the spotlight is on you, people will see what you are muttering to yourself when the spotlight is on someone else.

Be aware that people are watching you, and prepare for that moment. Be clear within yourself what you want to say and how you want to think in those moments when you are with other people. Don’t ever assume that you can fake your real thoughts and feelings on an on-going basis.

Decide on the messages you will deliver and how you deliver them. Decide on how you will react and how you will respond no matter what the other person says. Be conscious of what is happening in your mind even when you don’t think anyone is watching you.

It’s the not-so-hidden moments when a person can really damage a relationship. Be careful of your throwaway comments that you toss out at the beginning or the end or on the side of the main conversation. Those throw away comments might just cause the other person to throw you away and out of the interaction.

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