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On Explanations

All too often explanations are disguised forms of fighting back or running away.

… Explanations mostly are a way of saying “I'm right. I'm a good person.” You need to make an effort to save the other person's face. Being right is a way of winning. Structuring the situation so that you win turns the other person into the loser.

What should you do? Let the other person know you hear.

Restating does two things. It clarifies the problem so you both understand and agree on its nature. It also lets the other person know that you think what he or she is saying is worth listening to. It's a compliment that saves face.

Dinosaur Brains: Dealing with All Those Impossible People at Work