I Should Have Said…


ContemplationEver leave a conversation and think: “I should have said…”?

A coaching client of mine who is a lawyer related to me how he realized that he had missed an opportunity for new business during a meeting with his client. Here is how the conversation went:

Lawyer: My client and I talked about the business and his family.
Me: What were you thinking about when he mentioned the opportunity you think you missed?
Lawyer: Actually, I was thinking about a deposition I had to take later that day.

Charlie Green’s recent blog “Does Multitasking Ruin Your Ability to Multitask?” addresses how multitasking – while on the phone, watching TV, taking in scenery – affects our ability to get things done effectively. Isn’t it also multitasking when one is ‘just’ thinking about something else?

And wouldn’t it be interesting if our minds and our bodies were in the same place at the same time? Perhaps we would process and act on information in real time, and not have to say "I should have said…" Then again, that’s where we sometimes find ourselves.  Then what?

I suggested a simple fix for the lawyer’s lack of mindfulness. He could address the issue head-on by applying the skill of Name it and Claim It.  Say to the client: “When I left your office, I realized that you had a concern you might have wanted to discuss, and I missed it at the time.   Is that something you’d still like to talk about?”

What about you?  Do you have something you’d like to talk about – an "I should have said" story, and how you fixed it?

5 replies
  1. Andrea Howe
    Andrea Howe says:

    Thanks for the great post, Stewart. I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion to cycle back. I’d even go so far as to up the ante by saying " … I missed it at the time because I was too distracted by my own stuff, which means you didn’t have my full attention and I’m sorry about that." It’s risky, sure, because we might not look very good in that moment. Well, two things I say to that: (1) There is no trust without risk, and (2) We often completely UNDERVALUE the benefit of coming clean, exposing our humanity, and having the other person get that we care more about them than about our own need to preserve our own image. The essence of what you’re suggesting is a low Self-Orientation approach and that’s one of the fastest ways to build trust.

  2. Ian Brodie
    Ian Brodie says:

    I really like the "name it & claim it" approach.

    I certainly find that I assume that both I and my client will be hideously embarrased if I mention I missed something, or suggest we talk about somethign personal.

    Of course, nothign could be further from the truth.



  3. Stewart Hirsch
    Stewart Hirsch says:

    Andrea and Ian – right on target.  Thank you.  I couldn’t have said it better!  More evidence of the paradox – making oneself vulnerable through Name It and Claim It increases trustworthiness. 

  4. Peter Vogel
    Peter Vogel says:


    Great blog and it hits home…once a client asked me lunch, and over the course of lunch I never asked why.  So with your advice I called later that day to say "did you have a reason to invite me to lunch?"  Amazingly enough my client told me he wanted some help drafting a contract but since we were engaged in discussion on so many topics he forgot to mention the need for a contract.

    Thanks for the blog.




  5. Rivka Fuchs
    Rivka Fuchs says:

    We have given ‘multi-tasking’ a positive connotation when really it’s just the opposite. Instead of doing one thing well, we are reducing the effectiveness of all we are doing, and in reality, are ‘semi-tasking.’
    Let’s aim for: “Do one thing, and do it well”.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *