Hold That Thought!



“A remark that is better never than late.” - Anonymous


In this edition of Here We R, the word of the day is Repartee.


Repartee is a fancy word used to describe a witty or clever response.


I believe that even the quietest Veteran can be the wittiest person in the room given the chance. On many occasions I’ve connected with someone at work simply because they said just the right thing at the right time AND their word choice quickly identified them as prior service military. Veterans tend to call things like they see them. They don’t normally filter their words. Veterans can be very direct when they speak.


But in some civilian companies, you might find yourself in a situation where it’s better to bite your tongue or pay very close attention to how you say things. There may be many situations where saying nothing might be the wisest choice in the civilian world. I believe that in the military, although we learned to follow orders (and sometimes even shout them!), we also experience countless situations that at some point have predictable outcomes. Remember when that new Officer came into the unit? Remember that person at Basic or Boot Camp who was initially a better Follower than a Leader? Remember the last time someone in charge of an important task could have saved a lot of time and effort by listening to the experience of others?


As a result of our military upbringing, we tend to speak up when we think it is appropriate. We used to call this “Sharpshooting” or “Troubleshooting”. It’s that series of questions leaders ask followers to make sure they’ve covered all the bases and that nobody gets hurt.


The first time this happens to you – a series of questions followed by more and more questions – you probably were taken aback to some degree. Think about your form of Basic Training or Boot Camp. You didn’t know much then, so your instructors taught you, then quizzed you and then continually asked you questions to make sure you understood what’s up!


If you try this approach in civilian circles and make witty remarks and troubleshoot your co-workers, you’re destined to be labeled “That Ex-Military Guy/Gal” (and, not in the positive sense!). The communication methods used in military circles often differ from that of civilian circles. Knowing the difference between asking a few clarifying questions versus troubleshooting is the key.


Take the time to carefully consider how you communicate in civilian circles. Self awareness and a few changes in your delivery can go a long way when it comes to communicating effectively with your civilian peers.


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