No offence, but of all the people who read this blog, you are the most dim-witted, banjo-pickin’, web-fingered, snaggle-toothed, snuff-munching inbred that ever managed to read a computer screen. Hey, no offence!
What is it that makes people come out with lines like these in meetings and presentations? As if the magic preface ‘no offence’ gives them total diplomatic immunity to trample all over your ideas without anyone finding it rude or obstructive.
As if, as the great communicator and NASCAR hero Ricky Bobby noted in Talladega Nights, it’s enshrined in the Geneva Convention.
Here are the Top 5 Most Soul-Destroying Lines a presenter will hear in a meeting:
1. With all due respect…
2. No offence, but…
3. Here’s my two cents worth.
4. To be totally frank…
5. If I can just be devil’s advocate…
People who use these lines don’t care about making progress or improving people’s lives. They just like to use their nasty little veto powers to give themselves the satisfaction of stopping other people from getting the glory.
Number 5, in my experience, always comes from someone whose preference is do nothing, rather than something.
How to deal with them? It’s tricky, and depends on the vibe from the other people in the room. If you think people are on your side, then use your open questioning skills on your Devil’s Advocate. Ask them diplomatically for their own advice on how to solve the issue at hand.
Almost always, they will not have an alternative idea. Give them plenty of time to run with their line of negativity. Gently bring the topic back to whether the others in the room want to make some progress or just delay any decisions until the next meeting or the one after that.
Peer pressure always works better than a direct confrontation.