Sharon Sayler

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What a difference the choice of one word can make. If you heard “I want to check in on our relationship before we move forward” what is your immediate response?

Say it out loud:  “I want to check in on our relationship before we move forward” did that change how it made you feel?

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen in on a conversation. I wasn’t surprised by the defensiveness of the listener who jumped right into a description, again, of why their relationship went haywire last week. 

I knew the intention of the speaker and the context. But, the person receiving the message knew only the context, that the relationship had been strained the previous week, not the positive intention to repair the relationship. The speaker was taken off-guard by the listener’s defensive response yet they kept their cool and remembered to breathe….

Had the speaker responded defensively as well, the relationship would have continued to spiral downward. So, what is the one-word that caused the entire ruckus and could have continued the misunderstanding?  The word is “before.”

Consider the sentence “I want to check in on our relationship before we move forward” rephrased to “I want to check in on our relationship as we move forward.”

Not that much different when read, but when spoken, replacing the word “before” with the word “as” creates an entirely different frame that plainly states the speaker’s positive intention to repair and maintain the relationship. One word does truly make a difference.

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