Normal conversations, it’s easy of course. You listen, respond, share/exchange views. Today’s focus is going to be on those tricky conversations in case of a disagreement, conflict, or if someone is talking about their problems. What should we do when someone is talking…
First thing to understand is what’s their expectation. Mostly, if you know the person well enough, you will understand from their mood, body language, tone of voice and demeanour as to what is it they are looking for in this conversation. If you aren’t sure, ask them what is it that they would like from you in this conversation. Sometimes asking this question has an additional benefit. One, is you anyways get to know what they are expecting. Second, you bring it to their conscious attention as to what they are looking for. So, if they say, “I am open to listening”, you have their conscious buy-in to listen to you when you are speaking. Conscious resistance is reduced as a result of that response. Also, important thing to note, not everyone who talks of a problem is looking for a solution.
What do they want from you?
Do they want to listen or do they want to be listened to?
Do they want to be acknowledged or do they want your opinion?
Do they want a confirmation that they are right? Or your feedback to get it right?
If something is really and extremely important and you do want to communicate it even if they are not open, there are 2 ways that we could explore –
- Acknowledge what they are saying and add (not disagree and add) – saying, “I understand what you are saying. I may have a different point of view. But if you feel this is what you want to do, then I understand that.” When the other person knows you aren’t hell bent on making your point, unconsciously they drop their resistance and may be more open to hearing your point of view. They mostly land up saying, “tell me what’s on your mind”. If they don’t say that despite this, then perhaps they really aren’t ready for another opinion right now and it is best to leave it to them. It isn’t going to help even if you tell them anyway. Might as well save the heart burns.
- You directly ask them, “I have another point of view and it would be really nice if you heard me out. End of it, whatever you decide is fine. But it is important that I say this now.” – This is if it is really critical that you have to say what you have to say.
Most of us treat every situation in life with great seriousness. That’s why we have friction and arguments over the most futile topics even. However, it is good to understand what is important versus what is critical – AND, what’s the worst that could happen if you let go this time. If the repercussions aren’t life threatening, see if you can let go of the ego and the point. It scores you an extra point on rapport there.
If someone has made up their mind, anything that you say isn’t going to help. When people are convinced, understand their point of conviction thoroughly before trying to convince. And don’t try to convince. The more you try to convince, the more they’ll be convinced of their own. So, avoid convincing when someone is already convinced. State what you need to state with rapport so that if there’s a remote possibility, they might at least consider it.