The Four Responses


Why there are only four responses to any possible question or statement.

I took a class on dialogue at the University of Oregon, and the professor said “there are only four responses to anything someone says in life.”

Of course, my immediate response was “that cannot be true.” But the professor continued on to say, any time you engage in dialogue with someone, you have the option to do one of four things. You can:

  1. Lift Someone Up
  2. Put Someone Down
  3. Lift Yourself Up.
  4. Put Yourself Down

So profoundly simple, and so profoundly true.

Here are four example responses to the same statement, “I just read Moby Dick.”

  1. “Wow! That is amazing! Congrats!”
  2. “You’ve only read Moby Dick once?”
  3. “I’ve read it too…In French!”
  4. “I’m not smart enough to read that book.”

Same statement, four very different responses. But only one of those responses will make someone feel good – the first.

Take the time to understand that our words impact the lives of those around us. Choose the first response. It is time to use our words to lift people up.


Let’s empower those around us, and let’s start with being selective in our speech.


What are your thoughts on the four responses? Let us know below.


2 thoughts on “The Four Responses

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