Two women talking. Sometimes it is better to give a simple "Oh!" answer that helps you win rather than saying something you may regret later.
Sometimes it is better to give a simple “Oh!” answer that helps you win rather than saying something you may regret later.
Photo by George Milton on

Holiday parties, office parties and family get-togethers. All can come with real differences in lifestyles, opinions, religion and politics.

But the power of ONE simple word – said in an appropriate tone – can get you through many uncomfortable situations, family disagreements and office politics.

It is ONE simple word. The word is “Oh!” Yet, the challenge is to say it in a tone that acknowledges that while you heard what they said, but delivering it in a tone that implies NOTHING more!

If only I had understood the power of that word a long time ago … true examples from my life would give you something to think about! But it’s never too late to learn.

One example was my first day of training as a consultant. The trainer shook my hand and said, “I’ve been told I have to train you. Quite frankly, I do not think there’s a woman smart enough to do this job. Sit in the corner, and I hope you learn something!”

I said, “Oh,” and sat in the corner. I also soon won. By the third week of training, he was playing golf while I was busy working with our clients. He may have had the power once, but I was not going to lose.

In the world of animal rescue, emotional responses can also seem to be the norm. They can divide people and dilute services. They can also cause a great deal of heartache.

While this is not easy to deal with, here is what works for me.

If an arrogant, overwrought animal lover tells me in detail how ineffective we are and demands we do something NOW, the simple response is a professional “Oh.” Nothing more.

I then usually stand there for a while. Sometimes, it seems like an eternity, and I wait for them to walk away. Only rarely do I have to use my drill-sergeant response. I still have it, trust me.

Saying “oh” communicates that I heard you. Nothing more. All the people in your life do not know how to handle dead silence after you say that simple word.

Try it. It really does work.

You also probably need to be able to go somewhere safe afterwards and get the situation, words and actions off your chest. What worked for me was an office down the hall where an understanding co-worker listened while I would vent — imagine a pressure-cooker letting off steam!

So, no matter what, if I need to talk about what’s on my mind, I do find a safe place to “let ‘er rip,” so I feel better.

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