What would you do in this situation?
You’ve spoken to a colleague who’s not their usual self and you know another colleague is going to be speaking to them today. Would you warn them by saying something like, “I know you’re speaking to them today and I just wanted to warn you that they might not be their usual self because….” or “good luck, I spoke to them today and they’re in a foul mood”?
Have you, or would you do this?
There are lots of questions here but the key one I think is, what is the motivation behind the warning?
I think most people do this to help you prepare for the conversation (rather than, “I know something you don’t know”, one upmanship). But does this warning really help?
In accepting that it could help someone prepare, to answer this question I think we need to ask, could the warning adversely influence your interactions in the conversation? Do you hold back important feedback? Do you interpret comments in a way that confirms how YOU ASSUME they must be feeling? Do you try and engage them in topics – “how are things at home?” – when you usually wouldn’t? Has your body language made it obvious that you know what’s going on?
And we also have to think about how this warning impacts the relationship of the ‘warner’ and the ‘warnee’ – do they feel you think they wouldn’t be able to handle the situation without their warning (this is how I felt when this happened to me recently)?
I’ve thought a lot about this and come to the conclusion that the information has the potential to adversely affect how I would handle the conversation and would rather people didn’t warn me (and if they do, I’ll let them know I rather they didn’t and why). How about you?
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