One question to use when dealing with undesired language or behaviour.

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.



About ianbrownlee

Ian Brownlee, the founder of Brownlee & Associates has been actively involved in the field of interpersonal & transcultural communication since 1977. He has worked in universities and companies in the following countries: Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, England, The United States of America & Spain, as a teacher, university lecturer, trainer, researcher & consultant. In addition, his experience in living in these countries, and studying the language & communication and interaction styles of each has aided him in reaching a real understanding of intercultural and transcultural differences and how to resolve them. Ian Brownlee has various masters degrees from British Universities: One in Linguistics & Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, one in Training & Development with a specialization in the area of Communication and Adult learning awarded by the University of Sheffield. He has also gained professional qualifications in Psychotherapy & Hypnotherapy from various professional organizations. During his university career he has also studied elements of Sociology, Organizational psychology, Educational psychology, Psycholinguistics and Kinesics. He is a licensed Practitioner, Master Practitioner, and Master Trainer in NLP. as well as being a trainer in Ericksonian Hypnosis. He is a member of a wide range of professional organizations involved in Training, Applied Psychology, Hypnotherapy & Ericksonian Hypnosis, Psychotherapy, Interpersonal Communication & Cross-cultural Communication. He is also recognized by the Program on Negotiation, Harvard University, as a Negotiation Skills Trainer & Mediator and has been a collaborator on various projects with the program, and as such is in great demand as a negotiation consultant for some of the largest multinationals operating worldwide. His wide experience gained in multinational organizations in positions such as Director of Training, Communications Consultant and Negotiator / Mediator has helped many people to learn and apply new methods of negotiating skills and advanced communication techniques both in their private and professional lives. He has published various articles & books related to the field of interpersonal communication and he is the author of all the courses taught by Brownlee & Associates. He has lived and worked in Spain since 1985, initially as a trainer / Special Assistant in a multinational pharmaceutical company and then as the Training Manager for a multinational company involved in Clinical Analysis & Nuclear Medicine. Brownlee & Associates was formed in 1991 and currently has a small, highly-trained staff. While based in Madrid, courses are given world-wide either in English or Spanish. Brownlee & Associates currently work with leading international companies in the areas of pharmaceuticals , Information systems, luxury products, food & beverages, etc.
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