The Effectiveness And Honesty Of The Workplace “Just Sayin'”

“Just Sayin'” is a term that’s invaded and taken over conversations as a quick means for the user to note that they are just seemingly pointing something out without wanting to engage in a debate about what’s been pointed out.

Although it’s overused, it serves an interesting purpose in ongoing discourse.  It allows us to point out that something is off, amiss, or even objectionable, but that the main reason that the user is pointing it out is not to initiate an emotional debate but to have it known that something that might have flown under the radar is quite clear to them.

“Emotion gets us in trouble. It’s not what you say but how you say it.”

There might be various reasons for the person to bring up or flag the issue.  Their comment might be driven by either an emotional drive such as anger or resentment, or solely as a means to bring something to light that they may take issue with which they don’t want to necessarily debate but which they want to make known. A variation of the latter is preferred in order to proceed productively in a relationship. In an ideal conversation, someone should bring something up that’s undesirable to them without conveying it with an elevated or confrontational emotion.

Emotion is what gets us in trouble. It’s not what you say but how you say it. Although the actual usage of “just sayin'” might seem novice in its approach to pointing out undesirable behavior or details, at the very least it works toward pointing something out that is perceived as faulty, even if only for the side that’s mentioned it.  Both sides might have always seen the impediment of that issue at hand, but all it takes is for one side to finally flag that detail as unreasonable and that relationship will lack in productivity and full energy.

And even though the intention might seem unsophisticated as it seems to point out the indiscretion while wanting to dodge a conversation afterward, in most instances, if used wisely, it may serve as a mature and, in fact, desirable approach to resolving underlying issues.

‘…too often we might have given in to putting off the debate to another day…”

More professionals should look to this overall approach, but obviously without reverting to the actual phrase. It is powerful for someone to be able to outline specifically something they take issue with without getting emotional about said issue.

Whether in the personal or professional life, too often we retain our objections and merely track our disagreements without reacting due to the fear of an emotional backlash. Even if it is something that may save time, frustration, and money, too often we might have given in to putting off the debate to another day, hoping that it will sort itself out or that someone else will bring it up.

People might be weary of engaging in debates because they fear emotional upheaval but if that emotion is limited debates can be healthy, necessary, and productive.

How many times is the emotional reaction that one might fear or expect the main reason he or she avoids confrontation or debate, and not so much the actual words used?  We fear the emotion, not necessarily the other party’s version of logic.  If we bring up our thoughts with a tone of logic and reasoning, not letting emotion tinge the comments, that works to allow the other party to see what the objections are based in–the logic and reasoning–and not emotion of any kind.

Ideally, the tone of the objection should be, I see or have noted something is not right here and I want us to recognize it together so that we can tackle it head on, reach some resolution, and move ahead accordingly.

‘…Integrity is being able to outline what you’ve noticed is blatantly wrong or unknowingly erroneous.”

Integrity also plays into this conversation. It is seen as being unwavering whether it is in ethics, conviction or beliefs. But the other piece to integrity is actually being able to outline or express what you’ve noticed is blatantly wrong or unknowingly erroneous.

So even though the original phrase can be seen as novice in approach, it is powerful when broken down and reworded in its expression. The approach conveys that something can be noted and the purpose of the comment was to note that it exists, but it’s not necessarily about anything else but to make it known. No one is necessarily winning or losing in the conversation; both sides can move forward.

Granted, not all situations are that clean cut or easy, but the takeaway is that this thought process is a means for assessing the situation, making it known, and working toward resolution.

“…Use reason and logic to bring issues to the surface instead of emotion and vagueness.”

It is very influential to be able to do this–to use reason and logic to proactively bring issues to the surface instead of emotion and vagueness.

Using this approach is not as easy as would be hoped for. There are different occasions, situations, personalities, emotions, cultures, etc., in which it can be used and each will bring a different rebuttal. Saying it to one person would not necessarily garner the same reaction as if you had said it to someone else. But you should learn about your environment, see who the players are, and understand what their personalities are. This assessment of your environment is yet another form of feedback as feedback doesn’t necessarily only serve to describe an individual, but also a situation.  So this alert to others can be tricky because people have an impact on a situation, and so, in some instances, should you question the situation, the perception might be that someone’s intentions and intellect are being called into question.

No one should be using this type of approach in order to gain the upper ground on someone or boost their own ego. It should not be for reparations of any kind. It is more of a notice that something has been realized and the intention should always be to first understand the issue, and in the end, to always work forward and not linger in the past.

It’s not what you say but how you say it. “Yes” men and women are dangerous. It’s important to point out what you think might be faulty as long as you’re prepared to outline how it might be detrimental to any and all of the parties involved.  One can’t just red flag an issue, stating that it doesn’t work for them; it is an easier sell if honestly you can state that, in the end, all sides might not gain as much.

Remember that! It’s OK to suggest the brakes be applied because helpful suggestions you can bring up today will save time, money, and effort to carry out fixes tomorrow.

So…What About You?

  • How do you flag these moments of uncertainty?
  • How did instances where you might have bitten your tongue work out?
  • Have you tried different approaches with different people based on their personalities?

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