FIFI WAS OBVIOUSLY DISTURBED about something.
Mort couldn't tell if she was mad or sad or what. But not happy.
Mort is a good guy and he thought if he could get Fifi to talk
about it, she'd feel better. He wanted to be a good listener.
He wanted to show his empathy and bring them closer together.
So he asked, "Are you still mad at me for giving you that
list so late?"
She instantly got indignant. "You
must not think much of me if you could think I'd still be mad
Not exactly the effect Mort was looking
He made two mistakes. First, the question
he asked was a yes or no question. Open ended questions are better.
Open ended questions cannot be answered with a yes or no. They
give people more freedom to say what they want. They can't be
answered by a single word. They are more conducive to communication,
and less likely to be taken as an accusation or interrogation.
Secondly, if Mort had revealed his intentions
first, Fifi would be even less likely to take his question as
an accusation. It's a good idea to let people know what you are
trying to accomplish. Be open about your intentions. It not only
makes your communication better, but trying to clarify your own
intentions helps you, too. Imagine Mort saying something like
this: "It looks like you're not feeling so good and I want
to help you feel better. Maybe we could talk or go for a walk
This leaves Fifi in control. It is willing
and helpful without being controlling, and would be difficult
And Mort is setting a positive tone. He
isn't rejecting Fifi's state or her feelings but inviting her
to talk about it and saying he wants to help. That's the kind
of thing that really helps. That'll get them communicating. That'll
open the channels between them. You can do this with just about
anyone and it starts with revealing your intentions.