Eight communication strategies for getting your way
Are you having trouble with a control freak or mule who refuses to see reason on a particular issue? Don’t despair. There are effective communication tactics that will help lead people to see things your way.
I learned many of these years ago, the first time I worked in a group setting full of Type-A personalities who sometimes seemed to more interested in maintaining control than in actually making the effective choice. It was like a crash course in communication.
First, though, ask yourself seriously whether you are just one of those people yourself. Is there a chance you’re wrong and the other person is right? Don’t let your own need to be right control you. If you still want to proceed, try the following, a lot of which, if you are like most people, involves changing the way you do things.
Bide your time. Don’t argue in the heat of the moment. When someone disagrees with you, it’s very tempting to respond immediately and vehemently to everything they say with a counter argument. But these sorts of exchanges just make people dig their heels in. We don’t back down because we don’t want to lose face and many people have a very difficult time admitting when they are wrong, or even that another idea might be worth considering. If things get heated, back off and rethink your strategy. Few things are so urgent that they require immediate resolution. It can probably wait.
Be nice and be calm. Have you ever changed your mind about something because someone blew up at you and called you an idiot? I don’t think I have. Stay calm and be kind. He who gets mad first loses.
Let them have the last word. This can be particularly effective over written communication. If you leave the conversation hanging on their last argument, you give them time to doubt themselves and wonder if they’ve gone too far, which can lead them to back down.
Write out your talking points. Or at least think them out. If you take the time to formulate your argument and outline each of its strong points you will have an easier time bringing people around to your way of thinking. If you can and if it’s relevant, find examples of precedent to back you up.
Bring food and coffee. It’s a little harder to get up in someone’s grill when you’re scarfing down the doughnuts they bought you. Also, one study suggests that we feel warmer towards others when holding a warm beverage.
Say something complimentary. Even better if you can mean it. Often people just need to hear that you think they’re smart or know they’re coming from a good place. If you can convey that you love their ideas in general and have great respect for their opinion, but that you just have a slightly different opinion on this particular issue (and you still think they are an awesome person), they might be more amenable to seeing things your way.
Ask advice. If someone doesn’t trust your judgement, one good way to change their mind is to ask their opinion about something – something unrelated to the disagreement, if possible. You will immediately be boosted in their esteem because you asked for their opinion, and since most of us think highly of our own opinion, they will think you very wise for seeing their counsel – and that maybe your idea isn’t so dumb after all.
Get them to think it was their idea. An effective way to get someone to see things your way is to get them to think it’s actually their way. And one of the most effective tools for making this happen is patience. Sometimes the way to change minds if soft repetition, not loud insistence. Repeat something softly and often enough and people will often adopt that idea – and believe they came up with it themselves.