Subsequent Time You Find yourself in an Argument, Do not Use Information. Do This As a substitute
“You have no idea what you are talking about.”
These words just hit you like a ton of rocks. Without realizing it, you are in the middle of an argument. Frozen for a moment, you’re trying to figure out what to say next.
The problem is that our standard answer – which usually involves spitting out “facts” that we believe the other party should acknowledge – almost never works.
I recently discussed this with Jen Dalton, founder and CEO of Virginia-based branding agency BrandMirror. Dalton addresses this question in her new book, Lists: How to Hug the Difficult Conversations Life Throws At You.
“People are less rational than emotional,” says Dalton. “We tend to rationalize our emotions and reactions.” Therefore, any attempt to use facts or evidence usually fails.
“Using facts to change someone’s mind only drives them to double their beliefs,” explains Dalton. “When someone senses a threat, they go into protection mode and are not open to discussion. You may have dozens of sources, hundreds of facts, and it will still feel like an attack on the person you’re talking to. Explain Bringing your facts slowly and clearly is like slow torture that can explode quickly. “
There is a scientific basis for what Dalton is describing. That source of this response is the amygdala, the part of the brain that acts as the emotional processor. Whenever we feel attacked, the amygdala overrides our typical thought processes, which leads to a kind of “emotional abduction”.
What’s a better way to convince someone to consider your perspective?
You need to find a way to get your partner back to dealing with the other parts of their brain that encourage collaboration and creativity. Do that, says Dalton, and the other person may be more open to new answers or insight.
“As humans, we like to feel that we belong,” says Dalton. “When our identities are threatened and we realize that not only are we wrong, but our co-workers might be wrong too … it’s like being painted in the proverbial corner. Whatever our beliefs are when we talk If we want to move forward, then we must probably agree on basic rules and recognize what we have in common first. “
And how do you do that? Dalton recommends rethinking the way you present your information.
“When sharing information, don’t make it confrontational. Forget about trying to make an argument. If that’s your goal, you’ve already lost. Instead, focus on the goal of learning and influencing. Face each Go forward and forward conversation as an opportunity to collaborate. “
For example, Dalton says it is good to let your partner know that you learned more about a problem and were surprised to find out X, Y, and Z. After sharing what you have learned, ask your partner to share what they have learned.
“Ask them questions about what they know about the subject – so you can learn,” says Dalton.
This technique is excellent because it gives your partner some control and puts you on the same footing. You are two people, you get to know each other’s beliefs and you are looking for a solution …
And you do it together.
The value of this approach is that it encourages active listening and gives your partner something to think about long after the conversation is over.
If you do well, you will pave the way for future discussions – and increase the likelihood that they will consider your point of view … and maybe even change their minds.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.