Dan Pink: Three Simple Words for Dealing with Challenging Situations

In the latest episode of his Pinkcast, Dan Pink offers guidance on how to respond more effectively to people when they come to us with complications, confusion, and complaints.

Usually, when people come to us with a problem or grievance, we try to respond with a quick solution to the issue at hand. This is often not an optimal approach to the problem.

A better solution, according to two authors, is to utter three words.

So what are these three words?

I tried to guess what those three words might be and came up with the following possibilities.

  • not my problem
  • please go away
  • go eat something
  • deal with it
  • I like turtles
  • you are fired
  • I am busy
  • eat, pray, love
  • control alt delete

Surprisingly, not a single one of the 27 words above was part of the suggested three-word phrase, which was… drum roll, please….

Tell Me More

There are two reasons why this works:

  1. you learn more about the context of the situation
  2. it is clear that when you ask someone to “tell you more”, you are listening, not just offering advice.

People want to be heard, and the anger and resentment can dissipate which may then enable the person to come up with a solution on their own.

Dan closes his short Pinkcast (130 seconds), with the following advice:

Resist the temptation to jump in by jumping back…

*image from The Crossing

30 thoughts on “Dan Pink: Three Simple Words for Dealing with Challenging Situations

  1. Very good advice. Something I probably have never done. I think most of us tend to jump. I hope I remember this in the future but I can’t make any promises. Something about teaching old dogs new tricks. And a brain that is forgetting more than it remembers these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So tomorrow morning, it’s my turn to lead our staff training ( every Wednesday) This video and subsequent discussion has just replaced my previously planned lesson Thanks 👊

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good words! They show a little more caring than your suggested phrases. LOL!

    Jumping back is good advice. I am a sympathizer and can easily jump in which can be the right thing at times. But you have to be careful, for you can get in over your head!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is the kind of advice that really pays off. It is simple to understand and unambiguous in its suggestions of how to respond or behave. I hope to apply this technique in future conflicts. Great post to share, Jim!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. or “can’t hear you,” or “la, la, la…,” (while putting fingers in my ears), which I used to do with my sisters? maybe I should have my own advice column…)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Haha! You know where my mind went first—telemarketers. I usually say “I’m not interested,” before they’ve completed their first sentence. Perhaps that’s rude, but I don’t want to offer them any encouragement, and I’m usually a very encouraging person.

    One fo my buddies has a very creative line for telemarketers. “This is so interesting, but I don’t have time right now. Why don’t you give me your home phone number, and I’ll call you back tonight?” He says their is usually “stunned silence.” 🤣🤣🤣


  7. Ah, and I thought those three words were going to be ‘Uh huh, right.’

    ‘Please go away’ is a good alternative though. I wonder why that wasn’t mentioned in the video. Works well with random strangers complaining about how you should smile more as a cashier.


Comments are closed.