Balconies and Detachment: Advice for Maintaining Your Cool

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” Ambrose Bearce

EHS professionals often find themselves in precarious predicaments of having to tell the hard truth to people who don’t want to hear it. “No, you can’t use that 10-ft ladder on that 12-ft wall. No, not even once or when no one is looking.”

Emotions get involved, people often strike out, give up, or shut down. How can you approach these situations in a more productive manner?

Go to the Balcony: In “Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People”, William Ury’s advice is to go to the balcony. Summarized; don’t react, do pause and say nothing, sum up the conversation, and don’t make important decisions on the spot. Jocko Willink, Navy Seal and author of “Extreme Ownership” calls this “detaching” and his single best skill for surviving and winning battles in Iraq.

Next time your work feels like Ramadi, go to the balcony. And win.

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