Don’t say this at the end of a conflict

Fran sat across the desk from her manager. He had just finished explaining to her that a co-worker had complained about Fran’s workplace conduct. Her co-worker felt bullied by Fran’s direct and (from the co-worker’s perspective) hostile communication style.

Fran responded to her manager, telling him the problem was her co-worker’s thin skin. Why was this Fran’s fault? At the end of the meeting Fran was exasperated and said, “Fine, I’ll change how I talk to her.”

Then, Fran’s manger made the situation worse. He said…

“Moving on….”

And continued with another item on his agenda.

The problem with “moving on…”

Fran felt belittled. She felt unheard. She felt like her manger couldn’t wait to be done with this “frivolous” problem so he could move on to “more important” topics.

The phrase “moving on” can feel dismissive.

Fran felt unfairly called out. It was a big deal. Yet her manager seemed oblivious to how much this upset her.

Instead of saying “moving on” say “moving forward”

It sounds like a small change, but “moving forward” can bring a different context to the conversation.

Think about it. You have been asked to make a change in your behavior. You likely feel shamed and defensive. After this news has been delivered, “moving on” can send the message you and your feelings are no longer relevant or important. Case closed.

What if Fran’s manager had said this instead…

Manager: “It’s important for all our employees to feel this is a safe work environment. Moving forward I appreciate your willingness to change how you to talk to her.”

Moving forward focuses on future positive behavior vs. shaming for past behavior.

Moving forward can feel less like a dismissal of a problem, and more like a focus on a solution.

Try it and see if you get a better reaction.

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan

Holly Buchanan is the author of Selling Financial Services to Women – What Men Need to Know and Even Women Will Be Surprised to Learn. She is the co-author of The ... Web: Details