Whenever others confront us with a viewpoint we totally oppose, we easily start arguing about the veracity of that position. What is the problem with this approach, or more to the point, this reaction? It leads to an argument. When we start pushing others, they push back as if by instinct. The more we argue with others, the more they feel forced into proving they are right.
So how do we overcome this natural tendency to try to prove we are right? Let’s consider a playbook that enables us to disagree without being confrontational and to give us time to think. A master negotiator, author, and trainer, Roger Dawson* has come up with a basic formula: “feel, felt, found.”
Take a phrase we often hear in legal negotiations and mediations: “That is a ridiculous and insulting offer.” Armed with Dawson’s “feel, felt, found” formula, you can respond as follows:
1. FEEL: “Please help me understand why you feel that way.” Or “I understand how you would feel that way.”
2. FELT: “I have been in your position and have often felt that way too.”
3. FOUND: “And, what I have found is that taking a step back to listen to what the other side has to say about why this is so insulting, often opens the door to other possibilities that might satisfy your interests.”
The bottom line: instead of arguing, get into the habit of agreeing with them and then turning it around to your favor.
*Secrets of Power Negotiating, Roger Dawson, The Career Press, Inc 2001