I attended a communications seminar some time back that had us do a very different kind of exercise. The object of the exercise was to try and convince someone that our idea was better than their’s without using the word “But”. So you couldn’t say anything like, “ya, I see your point, BUT, bla, bla, bla.
Now, if you’ve ever tried to do this, you know it can be quite the challenge. “But” is the word we almost always lead off with when we are trying to tell someone that our way or idea is better than theirs. Now, we might very well have the better idea, but as soon as we throw the word “But” into the conversation it’s an uphill battle to wrangle the other person to you side of the issue. Now, if your a parent or boss, you can pull if off, and get your way, but you won’t get genuine agreement, just submission. That’s not leadership, it’s bullying.
Part of being a good leader or even just a good communicator is to win folks over to your way of thinking while showing them appreciation and respect for their point of view. Of course, there is always the possibility, if we will take the time to listen to another’s view or idea, we might find their’s is better. BUT, that’s another subject all together.
I have learned from experience that “Butting” others before fully hearing them out and showing respect for their ideas will make you a loser even if you win the battle. Now there are some folks who will disagree with you no matter how tactful or right you are, and there’s nothing you can do or change about that. “But” there really is a better way of getting people over to your side while still liking and respecting you.
So, how might one pull off this feat of communications magic you’re asking? It’s really easier than you might think.
1. Listen to what they have to say before trying you share your better idea.
2. Show a genuine respect and interest in their idea. Even if it’s not a great idea you still need to be nice and appreciate others ideas.
3. Repeat their idea back to them as you understand it, and make sure you do understand what they’re saying.
4. Tell them you appreciate their idea and it’s definitely something that should be considered, then ask them what they think of your idea.
Now, if you truly have the better idea and have explained that idea clearly, there’s a good chance you will win them over. You will have showed them their idea is important to you, which means they are important to you. Who doesn’t want to be thought of in that way?
The way I might put it in a conversation is, “That’s really a good idea, and I can see that.” So, let me ask you what do you think about an idea I had for the situation”? Then of course, explain your idea. You will have made them feel good about the fact that their idea was important to you, and most people will want to reciprocate that good feeling . Then like I said, if your idea is the better one, there’s a good chance you will have won them over to your way of thinking.
Give it a try and see if you don’t get more people agreeing with you.
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