When someone makes a negative comment to you and then follows up with, “Just Kidding,” do you believe them? Do you ever wonder if some part of what they said, they actually meant?
I was in the audience at an event recently, and the speaker singled out a person in the room on two separate occasions and made that person the butt of their joke. The speaker followed up with, “Just kidding” both times.
Since I’m fascinated with communication, body language and the way in which we relate to each other, I started watching the person that had been singled out. She (the person singled out) shifted her body language by turning slightly away from the speaker after the second time. Also, she no longer made eye contact with the speaker.
Of course, I don’t know what was going through her mind, and I didn’t go up and ask her after the event (even though I was curious). I did spend the rest of the time at the event wondering how I would have responded had the speaker singled me out in that way. Also, I imagined being the speaker and wondered if she noticed a change in the dynamic between herself and the person to whom she made the “Just Kidding” comments.
In no way do I think the speaker was intentionally being malicious or trying to damage the relationship. However, there’s a chance she did, in fact, break rapport and ruin her chances of earning that woman’s business. These moments can be big time “rapport breakers.”
Leaving Things Unsaid
It’s often better to leave unsaid any comment that you need to follow up with, “Just Kidding.” Before letting it leave your mouth, ask yourself, “Is this building rapport and strengthening our relationship?” If the answer isn’t yes, then don’t say it.
I wrote about this phrase, “Just Kidding” in my book, Six-Word Lessons on Influencing With Grace in relating to family members. Pay attention when communicating with your clients. Catch yourself in those moments when you feel like saying something that you’ll have to follow up with a “Just Kidding.” When possible, say something positive to build your client up instead.
Wishing you an amazing week filled with positive client interactions.