The first words out of their mouth was “this is not what we agreed to. My notes show that…”  Notice what this message is really saying to the listener.  The root message implies that the other party is dishonest.  The first thing the listener will think is how to defend their position.

Even if you win the negotiation you lost something for them because their brain will not be able to let go of the fact that you believed they were trying to put something by you.

So how do you open someone to listening to you when you have a controversial point or a difference of opinion?

1. Start with the point of agreement.  Imagine if in the above the dialogue the person started with “I know we both want …and what I am seeing in my notes differs from what is here so can we talk about…”  Notice how it keeps your brain open and allows for one of the most common reasons for inaccuracies- just a plain honest mistake.  So instead of chomping off the person’s head you give both parties the grace of room to maneuver around.

2. Stay in curiosity.  Assume you only know about 30% of what you need to know.  There may be new facts, information or situations that have arisen since you last talked that change the situation. Staying in curiosity also keeps you from falling in to judgment.

3. Stick to the facts.  I find too many times people move from fact to opinion and then turn the opinion in to fact in their mind.  An opinion is any “story” you attach to the facts which now interprets the meaning behind the fact.  For example if someone is always forgets what you ask of them- that is a fact.  If you say they don’t respect you and proof is because they forget what you ask of them- that is opinion.  It can be very hard to separate fact from opinion but it is crucial that you do so.

4. Assume the other party wants to dialogue openly with you.  That positive energy alone will cause your brain to chose nonthreatening words, to use positive body language, and draw the other person out.

Remember if you want to open the other person’s ears the key is to not assume a closed message.  Assume the best and then proactively draw that out in the other person.

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