We have all been in situations where someone is saying something hurtful or rude or behaving in a way which we do not like. Our natural response is either “Fight or Flight”: we either argue with them, try to convince them that they are wrong, get angry or use a range of other techniques such as appealing to their emotions that generally don’t work. Our second option is to exit the situation: stand up and walk out. Both types of responses mean that there has been a communication breakdown. Great communicators would not let this happen!
In this situation, the recommended response pattern is:
“What do you expect to gain by ….. (undesired behaviour)? + direct gaze.
E.g.: “What do you expect to gain by talking to me in this way?
“What do you expect to gain by behaving in this way?
“I would like to know what you expect to get gain by…?
Note: NEVER tell them what you think their reasoning is. Ask the question, keep quite, look at them and wait for their response. Keep repeating the same pattern until they answer the question.
When you argue with someone, you are subconsciously implying that their behaviour or language has some basis in fact – If it doesn’t, you would not be arguing or disagreeing with them! If you don’t argue / disagree with them you are implicitly accepting their behaviour. By asking this question you are neither accepting nor rejecting their communication, you are making THEM perform an introspective analysis of their own behaviour. Try it three times in three different situations and see what happens.
© Brownlee & Associates, Madrid, Spain, 2010. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied, translated or reproduced in any form without the prior written consent of Brownlee & Associates.