The Problem with “If it was me”

“If it was me, I would have done …”

“If it was me, I would have said …”

“If it was me, I would have made …”

The problem with “if it was me” is … it wasn’t you!  

“If it was me” tends to be used in conversations when someone, somewhere did not act or speak in a manner approved by the speaker.  When “If it was me” conversations don’t include the person being discussed, those conversations are very often judgmental gossip sessions.

“If it was me” doesn’t acknowledge:

  • Different view points, methodologies or perspectives
  • The other person’s experience or lack of experience
  • The possibility that perhaps it was you who failed by not providing adequate tools, training or resources
  • What the individual did right

“If it was me” slams the door on conversations that could provide valuable information and insight.  Instead of saying “if it was me”, try:

  • What worked well?
  • Is there something you could do differently that would result in a better outcome?
  • Why did you try that?
  • Is there a reason you didn’t  …?
  • Was there something about the situation that made you uncomfortable?
  • Is there something I can do to help you?
  • What do you think?

If or when a service team member is not performing to standard, it does need to be addressed, but success rates are higher when those meetings are conversations instead of lectures and when they involve the desire to understand individual strengths, challenges and learning styles.

The reality is there is no one just like you.  Get past you and focus on them.


4 thoughts on “The Problem with “If it was me”

    • Hi Tina. I’ve used that phrase in the past as well, usually with the intention to help. What I found was that when I did use it, I lost the opportunity to learn and see things from a different perspective and sometimes, their way was better than mine! It’s all about the journey, isn’t it?

  1. I have to agree, “If it was me,” or it’s various connotations are used far too often. What I find most interesting is that as an employer, one would think, that you would not want everyone to do it the exact way you do it. Having a core set of similar skill sets is necessary, however when recruiting you are getting the added bonus of a whole new set of experiences which may lead to new/different/more efficient ways of performing. Capitalize on the outcomes of something wasn’t done they way it would have been if it was you. If it was not successful it is still a learning experience not a failure.

    • I agree Jeff. New ideas and fresh perspectives are valuable. They lead to innovation and as you put it, failure is not failure unless there is no growth or learning associated with it. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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