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From the Road

From the Road: What the . . . ?!?!

Steve WillisSteve Willis is a Master Trainer and Vice President of Professional Services at VitalSmarts.

From the Road

So it doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does it usually takes me by surprise. It’s every facilitator’s fear—the inappropriate comment. They come in lots of shapes and sizes, ranging from overly personal to highly offensive.

I remember a train-the-trainer session where a prospective trainer’s opening line was, “So Adam and Eve were in the garden.” I thought for sure this was a joke. He got to the end and said, “And that’s how crucial conversations skills could have prevented original sin.” Not the punch line I was expecting.

We all fear and dread over-shares and inappropriate comments, but what’s the best way to handle them in the moment? One thing that’s worked for me is to use a contrast of sorts: thank the person for being willing to share, and clarify what’s appropriate to share in this setting. What do you do in these types of situations?

Comment below to share your ideas.


Steve Willis

As one of the original trainers at VitalSmarts, Steve has been on the forefront of developing award-winning training programs, perfecting quality training platforms, and delivering training content that has influenced more than 500,000 people to date. In addition, Steve has trained and certified thousands of employees, managers, and trainers from Fortune 500 companies across the nation. read more

2 thoughts on “From the Road: What the . . . ?!?!”

  1. I like the contrasting as a beginning, as well. I also have found it useful to share what seems to be the true intent of the person, often asking for that if I am unsure (get their story), and reflect appreciation for that. I will acknowledge how I saw any positive aspect of the comment, if I authentically did, especially if it meets their intent. Then I will share how the comment may have been interpreted by someone unaware of the intent, and I will share the potential impact of that. Depending on the relationship, I may suggest they consider a different approach to achieve their aims and help them brainstorm. It helps when I can challenge my own stories about the person/event and remain empathic.

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