Think about the last time you tried to get a refund at a store, get an extension on a deadline, or even asked a child why he didn’t complete his chores? It’s unlikely that the response was something you wanted to hear. As such, we go into such discussions defensively as if we know conflict is likely to occur. Just as a boxer puts his hands up in preparation for the fight before the round begins, people who go into a potentially confrontational conversation approach the interaction ready for a fight.
How do you think you’d feel if the first thing you heard come out of the other person’s mouth were these two words:
They even look good in writing, so think about how great they are to hear!
“You’re right, you should get a full refund.”
“You’re right, the deadline I gave you didn’t really give you enough time to complete the project. When do you think you can get it done?”
“You’re right mom (or dad), I didn’t complete my chores. I’ll go get them done now.”
No two words are better at diffusing a conflict or potential conflict.
No two words are more validating.
No two words show a willingness to listen.
No two words show more understanding.
This week, if you find yourself feeling defensive when being confronted with a conflict, an unreasonable request, or a complaint, take a deep breath and challenge yourself to find ONE thing in that conflict, request, or complaint that you can agree with or affirm. Then begin your response with that affirmation or agreement.
You’re right, it can be difficult to find something to agree with when you’re faced with a negative situation. So here’s a tip for finding just one thing. There’s almost always a FACT or a PERCEPTION that a person will state that you can say, “you’re right” to. For example, an employee complains about a task being too difficult for him to complete on time. Instead of saying, “No it’s not, you can do it David,” you can say, “You’re right David, X is difficult and it’s time consuming. This is the reason I gave the project to you. I know you have the skills to do it. How can I support you?”
Give it a try and I think you’ll be amazed how differently these types of conversations turn out when you use the two most powerful words that can ever come out of your mouth.