A Little Happier: On “Game of Thrones,” Tywin Lannister Has the Right Thing to Say in a Difficult Situation.

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Yes, I talk a lot about having the right thing to say. I do love it when someone has the right words for a tough situation! And I also talk a lot about the TV show Game of Thrones. Just about every situation reminds me of something from Game of Thrones.

And here’s a combination of the two subjects.

I recently heard an example of someone having the right thing to say, in a way that seemed very useful in many situations. 

In the case I’m thinking of, this person was planning her wedding, and she’d decided who would be in the bridal party. For whatever reason, someone who thought she should be included, wasn’t included. 

And that woman said to the bride-to-be, in a kind of threat or ultimatum, “Well, if I can’t be a member of the wedding, I’m not coming to the wedding at all.”

And the bride-to-be said, “Okay, I respect that.”

I thought this was a brilliant response. It didn’t lead to a fight. It didn’t affirm or criticize that position. It didn’t invite more discussion. It was just a simple, straightforward acknowledgment of the fact that this guest had the right to do what she wanted. When we say “I respect that,” we show…respect! Without getting into the weeds of whether we approve or disapprove.

And here’s where it comes up, in a slightly different way, in Game of Thrones. Spoiler alert! I’m going to talk about a major plot point so be warned!

It’s the extraordinary scene when Tyrion is escaping from King’s Landing, but he stops to confront his father. For Tyrion’s whole life, his father has bitterly resented and mocked him. Now Tyrion is holding up a cross-bow as he speaks to his father—and at the end of this scene, he does shoot and kill his father.

In this conversation, I thought Tywin, the father, used these words in a brilliant way to try to defuse his son’s anger. His words don’t work—he does get shot and killed—but nevertheless, I thought this response was remarkably skillful.

Sometimes, a simple acknowledgment of respect is a good way to end a difficult conversation.

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