Imagine these two conversations:

Conversation A:

Jan:  Would you like to attend the event with me?

Jo:  No, thank you.  (Polite with a smile).

Conversation B:

Jan:  Would you like to attend the event with me?

Jo:  I can’t, I’ve got friends coming into town this weekend and I have to get the house cleaned, and my son has a soccer game, and …

Jan:  Oh, I’m sure you can fit in a few hours.  Your house doesn’t need to be perfect…

Jo:  No, really, I can’t…

In which conversation does Jo have more power?  Conversation A, right?

Conversation B invites discussion about the decision Jo has made, and gives Jan the opportunity to question that decision.

Conversation A is straight and to the point, and leaves no room for debate.  Jo knows what she does and doesn’t want – period.

Which conversation is more typical in our society?  That’s right, B.  We love to explain our decisions!

This week I had a conversation in which I chose to explain my reason for a particular decision.  I felt it was a fair question “why?” and thought I’d share my reasoning.

Almost immediately the tone of the conversation shifted – it was palpable – and one of the people I was talking with began to tell me all of the reasons my reasons were wrong.

I’d entered the energy of explaining.

As soon as I gave a reason for my decision I invited more inquiry into my reasoning, and the conversation shifted from being grounded in my innate right to make a decision on this topic to my feeling the need to justify my decision.

When inviting this energy, the people with whom you are talking will be happy to step in and question you.

This doesn’t mean you don’t SHARE your thinking.  There’s a different energy in sharing – you don’t invite questioning.  The difference is all in who you’re being and where you are coming from.

In a conversation in which you’re concerned about being questions, you’ll allow yourself to step into “explain and justify” mode.

When you share, you are grounded in your decision, and, quite frankly, people don’t question.

Here’s another example.

Imagine you are having a conversation with someone who you have discovered needs your product or service.

You are sharing with them the benefits of what you do, and they question the value.

If you are clear and aligned to your offering, you have lots of options for how you might respond.  You may ask them some more questions to understand what you might have missed about what they are looking for.  You may share a little more about what you meant.  You may feel free to say something like, ‘well, it might not be for you.”

If you allow their question to hook you into the energy of explaining, you’ll suddenly find yourself babbling about why they should believe you and justifying your prices.  Oh, no!

Have you done this?

Don’t worry.  Cut yourself some slack.  It’s an innocent little habit.  But it costs you.

We get stuck in the energy of explaining, justifying, and even apologizing because, well, it’s socially acceptable.

Think about Jo and Jan, above.  Most people give a reason for saying no to an invitation.  We tend to believe:

  • It’s polite to explain.  We don’t want to make someone feel bad.
  • It’s arrogant to declare what you want.  “Who does she think she is?”

To a certain degree we unconsciously slip into explain mode, but mostly we want to avoid the judgment we believe we risk by being clear and powerful.

I invite you to practice being unjustified in your decisions this week.  Take note of how it feels!

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