40-Day Business Leadership Peak Performance Programme Day 24: Options

Yesterday was all about how to shut down your chatter. There are four key steps.

  • Recognise that you have chatter. Chatter is the key awareness tool.
  • Stop.
  • Trace it back to the specific moment in time that triggered the chatter. There is usually an incident that kicks off the chatter. It could be something seemingly benign! Pay attention.
  • Shut it down. You shut down your chatter by asking: What do I feel I need to say or do right now … with courtesy, manners and respect for others? Sometimes it is straight forward. You know exactly what to say or do.

But sometimes knowing what to do or say isn’t that automatic, straightforward or easy.

Let’s meet Susan. I turn up for a coaching session with Susan and I ask her if she has any chatter she’d like to talk about.

Susan had some chatter about a repair bill to her car. She needed to have some rust cut out of the panels. I asked why this was giving her chatter.

“Because I can’t put my car in the garage.”

“Why not?”

“Because my ex-husband’s gear is stored in there.”

“So how long has it been there?”

“11 years!”

Get the picture? Susan can put her car away in the garage because it’s full of her ex-husbands belongings. There is a solution to tis problem and there are options. So what are Susan’s options? What should or could she do? Take a moment before you read on to consider what her options are and what you’d do.

I ask clients to explore this issue in face-to-face coaching sessions and in seminars.

The typical answers include … take it to the dump … take it to the Salvation Army depot … have a car-boot or a garage sale … burn it … tell him to come and get it … throw it out on the street … get a lawyer … charge him back rent for storage … build an extension to the garage.

All of these are valid options.

For business people, there are three basic options. We can segment all options into three distinct action strategies:


The do-nothing strategy is a great strategy I use often if it’s both resourceful and appropriate.

 When the do-nothing strategy is used it’s often used to avoid a confrontation which is neither resourceful or appropriate. Susan has been avoiding conflict with her ex for a long time so doing nothing seems to work. And she has been very committed to the do-nothing strategy for over 11 years! But how’s that working for her? Her car now has rust! The bill to repair it by the way was £1200.

Susan has been committed to the ‘do nothing’ strategy for over 11 years. But is that resourceful and appropriate? No because she no longer wants to keep ‘doing nothing’. The ideal is: she wants to be able to put her car in her garage.

The thing is Susan has very good reasons why she has done nothing for so long. “You just don’t know my ex-husband. He is very intellectual and he loves to tie you up in arguments and logic. I always end up agreeing with him and later wonder how that happened.”

Apparently, its not possible to do anything else but do nothing. And that’s a big banana Susan is holding on to! Susan doesn’t discriminate with her ex-husband. She does nothing with lots of people!

Ron has been using the do-nothing strategy. So has Jane and so has David. The fact that the problems are not resolving tells us that doing nothing isn’t appropriate or resourceful.

Do something DIRECT

This involves communicating directly to the person you need to directly communicate with. If this is appropriate, be direct. In this case Susan needs to tell him to directly to come and get his stuff. This is the DIRECT option.

There are four ways to communicate directly with someone: face to face; in writing (i.e., letter, fax, SMS text message, email etc); by phone (i.e., cell phone, landline); and by proxy (i.e., lawyer).

Do something INDIRECT

Indirect strategies usually involve doing anything other than communicating directly to the person we have the issue with. If doing something indirect is appropriate – and that’s working for you – then fine. But only you know if it is appropriate for you.

So some indirect options might include taking the stuff to the dump … or donating it all to a charity shop … or having a garage sale … or … any other indirect option.

Options are always evaluated in terms of the resourcefulness and appropriateness of each option.

But she doesn’t want to do any of the above because she wouldn’t want someone to do that to her belongings. Susan demonstrated some empathy for her ex by realising that throwing his gear away wasn’t appropriate. Things like taking the gear to the dump or having a garage sale are indirect options because they don’t involve the person who we need to communicate with.

So now it’s a process of elimination.

“Do you want to keep doing nothing?”

“No, I want him to remove his things so I am able to put my car away.”

“OK, do you want to do something indirect like take his stuff to the dump or donate all his stuff to charity?’

“No, that wouldn’t be fair.”

“OK do you want to do something direct like ask him face-to-face to remove his stuff?”

“No, I’d be too nervous.”

“OK what about a phone call?”

“NO. That’s just like a face-to-face confrontation.”

“Ok how about get a lawyer to do it?”

“No, too hostile.”

“OK then all that’s left is a letter or an email. Do you want to write him a letter?”

“Yes, that feels OK.”

So she wrote her ex a note explaining the situation and suggesting that all of the gear should be moved out within seven days and if it was not removed then it would go to the charity shop. Incredibly, she then went to his house, knocked on his front door and handed the letter to him directly.

Three days later the garage was emptied.

But her ex said, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? I thought it was OK to leave the stuff there.”

To some degree he is technically right – if you don’t say anything it is deemed to be agreement. But in reality, he knew she was non-assertive nice guy and he took advantage of her inability to confront issues. (See your regulars get to know you.)

A lot of times you get chatter and it is not a simple thing to decide what you need to say or do. You might need to consider your options carefully first. Maybe that’s the thing you need to say or do right now. NB: It goes without saying that your options are legal and ethical, OK? I am NOT encouraging you to do things that are illegal or unethical. Clear?

Ponder the above. If considering your options will help you shut down your chatter … consider your options. Spend some time really exploring the three main options and work out which is the most appropriate option in your case.

Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com

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It goes without saying that this is for information only and The Author  cannot be held responsible for any losses or damages that occur as a result of reading this material.

© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd

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