In past articles, we’ve looked at words and attitudes we can take that will almost immediately give us the edge in bringing a potential conflict to a mutually beneficial, win/win solution. From a pleasant, sincere smile to, what I call, “apologizing in advance” when having to take someone away from what they’re used to doing, to many things in between.
Then there is the very opposite. Phrases and attitudes that will take a “negative-leaning” situation and totally accelerate it into – at best, a difficult situation or – at worst, an explosive one. In other words, they just make people bristle.
Here’s just one example of something…not to do.
Several years ago I was in a car driven by a friend of mine who had just moved down to Florida from Massachusetts. After stopping at a four-way stop sign he did something contrary to what he was supposed to have done; although I no longer even remember what it was. It must have been somewhat significant, however, because the police officer who witnessed it turned on the “flashing blues”, sounded his siren, and pulled us over.
The officer was very polite and professional and told my surprised friend what he did. My friend responded by saying, “That’s not the law in Massachusetts.”
Okay, here’s a quiz. How would you guess the officer responded?:
A. “Oh, my fault then. I didn’t realize you’re from Massachusetts. Had I known that, I never would have had the audacity to stop you for doing something illegal here in Florida.”
B. “Well, everyone knows Massachusetts pretty much sets the standard for the way things are done everywhere else in the country, especially down here in Florida. Excuse me. Please, go ahead and drive along, and I sincerely apologize for bothering you.”
C. “This isn’t Massachusetts.” And then writes up ticket.
Of course, you guessed it. Amazingly enough, my buddy was flabbergasted. Now, not saying something like the above probably seems fairly obvious. But, you know, it’s interesting how often I’ll hear someone begin a conversation in such a way that’s almost guaranteed to upset the person who they, for one reason or another, want or need to win over.
If we begin on the wrong foot, by unnecessarily upsetting the other person, it isn’t that we can’t still succeed; it’ll just be a lot more difficult. And why make dealing with a potentially difficult person any more difficult than need be?
Instead, ask yourself what you can do at this very moment to set the person at ease and make them as receptive to you and your message as possible.
With all this in mind, are there any bristle words or phrases, or their opposites, that you’d like to share and from which we can all learn and benefit?