Sunday, May 1, 2011

Big Idea, Small Package

Last time we spoke about how difficult it is to get others (and ourselves) to change our minds once we have committed to a course of action, especially if we feel it will damage our reputation if we reverse field. I spoke about a few ways to help someone see that they didn’t have all the information at the time the decision was made and now, with “new” information, they can help make a more informed (if different) decision – one that better represents the new understanding.

A very small word that is very potent in these kinds of circumstances is “yet”.

When someone tells us that they really don’t understand what we are upset about, or what we are saying, or what we mean, we may feel a little twinge of upset. We may want to raise our voice, adopt body language that indicates we feel they aren’t paying attention, or try to re-explain what we have just said sloooower or LOUDER as if they were feeble-minded. As we send these signals, the other person is likely to feel our upset as an attack, and to become defensive. As all my faithful subscribers know by now, defensiveness kills communication.

An effective method of signaling that you understand that the other party does not fully understand your meaning yet is to acknowledge that there is still more to know by using the word “yet”.

I have found that saying “Oh, I don’t see how you COULD understand yet – I have only given you a fraction of the facts.” OR “I am sure my meaning will become clear in a second – I just haven’t found the perfect words to describe it yet.”

This indicates to the other party that you agree that they don’t understand and that you acknowledge that it is not their fault because you still have more to say.

This is a very helpful method for getting around a difficult problem and getting the other party to engage MORE deeply with you.

More next time.

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