When you hear someone say something you disagree with, what is your initial reaction?
If you’re dying to tell that person that they’re wrong, here’s what you’ll get.
First, when you say “You’re wrong”, you may as well take your hand, move it toward that person’s chest, and push. It’s like what happens on playgrounds everywhere. I’m right. You’re wrong. And that’s the way it is.
And I’ll fight to the death for my right to be right.
Let’s look at the mechanics behind this situation.
When someone says something that differs with your view of the world, something happens inside. Depending on your personality, you might just feel uneasy. Maybe you feel violated. Perhaps you’re so aghast that the other person has the nerve to say this that you just can’t keep silent.
At any level, you are creating resistance.
You resist because you disagree. You push back because you don’t want to move. And the more the offender pushes, the more you just want the whole thing to be over with so life can get back to normal.
We all want to be right. This is because when we feel right, we feel secure. When someone shakes that up - especially when they offer no better alternative - we bristle. And even if they do offer something better, if they inflict enough pain, we’ll never listen to their suggestion.
So if you want to win people over, don’t punch them in the chest with criticism.
But what if the other person is wrong?
Maybe they are. But if you point out first that they are wrong, you’ll never get any further. You’ll force yourself to do damage control, and that can take so much time you’ll never get your good message through.
So what do you do then?
Offer a better way that indirectly points out the shortcomings of their viewpoint. Wrap your message as a gift — something they want more than their pain. If you can successfully do that, you’ll be the most persuasive person possible.
But you have to invest time connecting with them to do this effectively. And you can only do that if you show them how much you care, no matter how much you disagree.