Effective Communication Skill Blog

powerphrase_icon2"It was different from any wedding I've ever been to."

That was one of the more common comments people shared after Bob and I married last week. The wedding was uniquely ours. It probably helped that we haven't been to a lot of weddings. We didn't have much experience to tell us what weddings "should" be like. We just knew what we wanted one to be. Delightful. 

The ceremony was my creation with Bob's and Evan's (the minister) collaborative input. Evan sent me a summarized and updated copy of the ceremony, and when we spoke, he noted,

  • It would be impossible to offend me.

"That's a PowerPhrase!" I replied. And it was. It gave me permission to be completely honest, which I would have been anyway, but not with the same confidence. He then—jokingly—protested when I told him we wanted to adjust the part of the blessing that said we would never settle for the snotty privilege of always being right. We replaced snotty with easy. 

Being impossible to offend is a gift

Last week I misinterpreted my friend's grief as feeling victimized. She called me to clarify that she didn't feel victimized at all—she just missed her lost love. I appreciated that she clarified without taking umbrage at what might have been an implied diminishment of her purity of heart. Instead of regretting my error due to hurt feelings, I was happy that I had communicated what I saw, because it allowed her to share the depth of her heart. 

Being impossible to offend is not the same as taking crap or betraying your expertise. It's essential for true collaboration that people be able to call it as they see it. They might be missing something, but that doesn't matter. By speaking honestly and inviting honest responses, conversations become dynamic, real and transformative.

Umbage-free zones

You might not be planning a wedding, but even if you're just planning a lunch with a friend, create an umbrage-free zone. Being impossible to offend will help the collaborative planning process.

So try it next time you submit anything for review. Let them know,

  • It would be impossible to offend me.

You might be surprised at how much smarter both or all of you are than any one of you, in umbrage-free zones.

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