By: Terri Hayes
I was first introduced to the term “triple threat” in the context of basketball. My coach taught me that when you get the ball, you have three options: pass, dribble, or shoot. As players become more skilled, they figure out the best move to make during every game moment.
In our daily lives, we face a constant feed of diverse “balls” representing words from others. These might come in the form of a critical review from a boss or colleague, an unwelcome label, a sharp remark, or a harsh judgment. They’re all part of the mix, challenging us in various ways.
We have triple threat options with every “ball” we are thrown in the form of words. So, someone “throws” us words. Begin by thoughtfully evaluating those words for accuracy, seeking out any elements of truth. This isn’t about casting shame upon oneself, but rather approaching it with honesty and curiosity. Then go to the “triple threat” options:
#1 –If you find there’s validity in what’s been said, one avenue to explore is making adjustments. Consider how you might navigate this in the future or what present practices could be refined to bolster your skills in handling similar situations.
#2 – If you find there is truth in the words, choose to refrain from immediate action. There’s no shame in opting to postpone addressing an issue if your reasons for doing so align with your values. Personally, and I’m sure many can relate, an extensive list of improvements can become overwhelming, hindering progress on any one item. Therefore, sometimes I opt to postpone a change until I can give it the focused attention it deserves.
#3 – Should you determine it doesn’t align with the truth, simply let the person hold their perception of you. This approach has truly transformed things for me. It’s not always easy. Our natural inclination is to attempt to convince others differently when they misunderstand us or our intentions. This often expends energy in an unproductive way. Occasionally, there are instances where clarification is necessary, but in most cases, simply acknowledging the other person might lack the full context or information suffices. It’s a kind gesture to grant them the space to hold an incorrect belief. Understanding our own intentions, nature, and inherent goodness, allows us to be compassionate towards others who might not see things as we do, releasing the need to rectify their perceptions.
The short version of our options when someone throws us sentences: There are truths, make adjustments; there are truths, don’t make adjustments; there are no truths – allow the other person to be mistaken about you or your intentions.
Similar to adept athletes who review game footage for learning—not for dwelling or self-deprecation—we, too, can grow. Now equipped with options for every incoming thought, you’re empowered. This is your opportunity to respond proactively and extract wisdom from them. Perfection isn’t the goal; it’s about polishing your skills through every encounter.