First, watch for the moment when people start to resist you.
Turn your attention from the topic (no matter how important) to
STATE MY PATH 1 39
yourself. Are you leaning forward? Are you speaking more
loudly? Are you starting to try to win? Are you speaking in
more you care about an issue, the less likely you are to be on
your best behavior.
Second, tone down your approach. Open yourself up to the
belief that others might have something to say, and better still,
they might even hold a piece of the puzzle-and then ask them
for their views.
Of course, this isn’t easy. Backing off when we care the most
is so counterintuitive that most of us have trouble pulling it off.
It’s not easy to soften your language when you’re positive about
something. And who wants to ask for other views when you
know they’re wrong? That’s positively nuts.
In fact, it can feel disingenuous to be tentative when your own
strong belief is being brought into question. Of course, when you
watch others shift from healthy dialogue to forcing their way on
others , it’s obvious that if they don’t back off, nobody will buy
in. That’s when you’re watching others. On the other hand, when
we ourselves are pushing hard, it’s the correct thing to do.
Let’s face it. When it comes to our strongest views, passion
can be our enemy. Of course, feeling strongly about something
isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s okay to have strong opinions. The
problem comes when we try to express them.
For instance, when we believe strongly in a concept or a
cause, our emotions kick in and we start trying to force our way
onto others. As our emotions kick in, our ideas no longer flow
into the pool. Instead, our thoughts shoot out of our mouths like
water out of a raging fire hydrant. And guess what-others
become defensive. When this happens, when our emotions tum
our ideas into a harsh and painful stream of thoughts, our hon
<.:st passion kil ls the argument rather than supports it.
1 40 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS
Catch yourself. So what’s a person to do? Catch yourself
before you launch into a monologue. Realize that if you’re start
ing to feel indignant or if you can’t figure out why others don’t
buy in-after all, it’s so obvious to you-recognize that you’re
starting to enter dangerous territory.
Back off your harsh and conclusive language, not your belief.
Hold to your belief; merely soften your approach.
SUMMARY-STATE MY PATH
When you have a tough message to share, or when you are so
convinced of your own rightness that you may push too hard,
remember to STATE your path:
• S.hare your facts. Start with the least controversial, most per
suasive elements from your Path to Action.
• Tell your story. Explain what you’re beginning to conclude.
• A.sk for others’ paths. Encourage others to share both their
facts and their stories.
• Talk tentatively. State your story as a story-don’t disguise it
as a fact.
• Encourage testing. Make it safe for others to express differing
or even opposing views.
One of the best ways to persuade others
is with your ears-by listening to them.
Paths How to Listen When Others