Make Business And Relationships Stronger With One Magic Phrase

Relationships need maintenance, but sometimes it’s hard to say what we need to - even moreso when mixing business and friendship. Here’s a magic phrase, and useful technique, that will help.

Stever Robbins
6-minute read
Episode #416

Saying she’s scared and worried names her emotions, and owns her reaction. It also lets Melvin know what’s going on beneath the surface. He cares about her a lot, so when he hears this he’ll want to find any way he can to help her out. 

But the last piece of Bernice’s check in is pretty harsh. “It’s your fault” isn’t a phrase most people can hear without feeling bad. 

Speak in “I” Language to Deliver News Without Accusation

Humans love to blame! It makes sense, because it feels so good not to be the one at fault.

Unfortunately, when you make someone feel bad, once again, their lizard brain takes over. Only this time, it grows to 500 feet tall and destroys Tokyo. By phrasing things from an “I” point of view, you can keep them calm, and Tokyo safe.

People get defensive when blamed. Instead of saying, “You hurt me,” say, “I feel hurt when you…” Then name the behavior they did.

Bernice’s new version: “What I’m afraid to tell you right now is that we lost a ton of flower orders. I’m worried this month’s revenue might not be enough. I am scared that the problem may be with the system.”

This way, the blame isn’t on Melvin. Bernice is talking about her fears, not about Melvin’s performance. She follows it up with a question, so the discussion can move into problem-solving mode. Perfect!

Since the magic statement finds problems when they’re still teeny tiny nagging issues, you don’t even need to solve the issue right away. During your check-in, you can make a quick plan to fix something later. 

To sum up: By scheduling a relationship check-in and using the Magic Sentence “What I’m afraid to tell you is…”, you can detect hidden landmines before they become a problem. Ask the question with a friendly tone of voice. Name your feelings, eliminate blame, and speak in “I” sentences. Then make a plan. In part 2 of this episode, we’ll explore different ways you can use the Magic Sentence to keep your work and life running as smooth as melted butter

magicphrasegetitdoneguyWith a deep breath, Bernice gently told Melvin what was going on. He replied easily. “I know what’s happening, and I’m all over it!” They hugged super-sweetly. Bernice already felt better about the month for the store, and Melvin had a weight lifted off his shoulders. 

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run webinars and other programs to help people be Extraordinarily Productive, and build extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.