What to Say….. When You Forgot What You Were Saying

Ever been in the middle of a conversation when suddenly…..huh? …..  what? You’re lost. Sometimes it’s age-related. But it can also be a result of fatigue, anxiety, or even food allergies that affect mental clarity.huh

Whatever the cause, it’s helpful to have ready-to-go responses for those moments. Rather than struggle with embarrassment or self-criticism, it’s important to keep in mind, this happens to everyone. The more anxious we become over these moments, the slower our minds clear and “reset.”

Imagine this.

You’re on a phone talking business about an important project. Suddenly you’re blank. You experience a momentary loss of memory. Most of us stutter and stammer, unsure of what to say, unsure of how to deal with the gap.  A better alternative is to have some ready-responses, even if they have to be written down in front of you for just such an occasion. After all, if you’re on the phone, who will know?

Choose from these ideas, or use them to create your own response:

  • “I hope you won’t mind if I take some time to think this over. I’d like to give it just a bit more time and call you back to finish our conversation.”
  • “Let’s review for a moment….can you recap for me?”
  • “Sorry, I have a call I’ve been waiting for and need to take. Can I call you back?”
  • “Tell me, what are your thoughts here?”
  • “So, in your mind, what’s next?”
  • “Do we have time to think this over and talk later today or tomorrow?”
  • “Someone just walked into my office, are you available to talk about this more later?”

Obviously, not all of these are appropriate for every situation. It will be different if you are speaking with your boss vs. a team member, if you are in front of a group, or one on one. But each of the above responses should give you food for thought to come up with your personal favorites.

Let’s suppose your short-circuit moment is in a personal conversation. Depending on who you’re talking to, it might be best to say, “Can you remind me where we were? My mind drifted for a moment.” Or even, “Tell me that again. I’m not sure I got everything you said.”

I forgot

Or, try one of something like this:

  • “Ugh….someone just interrupted me, where was I? “
  • “Ok, let’s backtrack a moment. I need to review. Where were we?”
  • “Give me a hand here, I got so ahead of myself in thought, I lost track of what I was saying. Can you refresh my memory?”

The less fanfare, the less apology and overreaction to these mental skips, the faster your mind will reboot and come back to the topic of conversation.

Everyone occasionally loses track of themselves, with no memory of what was just said. But in business situations or pivotal moments with an employee or boss, it might not be best to share that. Instead, take a breath and find a graceful way to resume the conversation. You’ll be able to move on without embarrassment and without missing a beat.

Check out our next post this week for more ideas on how to handle a mental gap in your conversation.