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Syntax Training | Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

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October 16, 2017


Barb Rowan

I appreciate this post because we all need to be reminded to structure our response when it may also reflect our own defensiveness. Whenever we use "you" in a response about any topic, we are not taking responsibility for what we brought to the original communication. Thanks for the reminder Lynn.

Shelley Manes

My mother taught me that a proper apology will have no "but"s or "you"s anywhere in sight. Wise woman.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Barb, I like your broadening the reminder to any use of "you" in a response. Good advice!


Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Shelley, a wise woman indeed. I love succinct advice like that.


Tommaso Caldarola

Good question and notes. This debate is often also happens here in Italy and the right response is what has been in your post.


Thank you Lynn. I love Shelley's comment as well. I would just like to touch upon the slippery slope that comes with apologizing even if the fault is not yours. I do believe that it does help the professional relationship move forward, but it should not be overused. I know from personal experience that people who continue to apologize start to lose credibility and become a kind of "scapegoat". It is definitely a professional tactic, but should be used with caution.
Thanks again for your posts!

Virginia Sowell

I love this column and your advice. Thank you for helping us become better communicators at work and with our personal relationships.


Excellent advice, Lynn. When an apology is warranted, be direct and accept responsibility. I agree with Kristyna that over-apologizing can have negative consequences.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thank you for taking the time to comment, Tommaso, Kristyna, Virginia, and Anita.

Tommaso, thank you for letting us know that the same issue occurs in Italy. I wonder whether it occurs all around the world.

Kristyna, that's an excellent caution, and I'm glad you brought it up. Indeed, sometimes we need to push back and say "Let's discuss what happened" rather than instantly accept blame. When I mentioned apologizing even when we don't think we did anything wrong, I was thinking of times when we could not have known we would upset someone, yet we did. Sometimes we even might have had a little voice telling us not to do what we did. I know in my original response to the woman who became upset with me, I did have a momentary thought that I should elaborate. When I ignored it, my conciseness got me into trouble.

Virginia, you brought me a big smile.

Anita, well-said. I agree.


Tommaso Caldarola

I'm leading a 15-20 members team since several years and can confirm on the field that "Let's discuss..." before anything else is a winning strategy.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks, Tommaso. I agree.


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