Do you know the one sure-fire way to get what you want every time you’re faced with reaching consensus on an
important decision at work or at home? Through observation and trial and error, I’ve learned a five-step process that, when done well together, is guaranteed to get you what you want every time. I want to share the five steps with you.
In every relationship, you can choose to go toe-to-toe with those who hold a different point of view, or you can choose to invite the others to take a walk in your shoes and look at the situation from your perspective.
When you invite others to walk with you, you change their point of view from being at some angle opposed to your own to looking at the situation from a shared perspective.
It’s much easier to change others’ points of view than it is to change their minds.
What You Want Every Time
There’s more to this than simply getting others to do what you want them to. You don’t win by getting your own way in a discussion, especially a discussion that involves making important decisions. Your goal is not to win the argument or to get your own way through manipulation or by running roughshod over the others. That’s not what you want. Rather, what you want every time is to be shown respect for your opinions, your needs, and your concerns.
Here are my five steps to help you get what you want every time.
Step #1: Begin with the End in Mind
At the end of every interaction, you want to leave others with confidence in your integrity. When you are honest and sincere, and show you are willing to let others express their opinions and concerns, they come to see you as someone who acts with integrity. They learn they can trust you and they gain confidence in you. As a result, they’re more willing to listen to what you have to say, even when they firmly hold a different opinion or have competing priorities.
Step #2: Read your Audience
Gauge the others’ reactions to your words. Are they open? Are they responding negatively to what you are saying? By reading their signals, you can guess fairly accurately who agrees with you, who is opposed to your idea, and who is undecided, even before they speak. Then, you can focus your efforts on persuading those who have not yet made up their minds. Try to keep your supporters with you, and try not to irritate your opponents.
Step #3: Seek Understanding
To get what you want, it helps to listen effectively to what others say. Walk in their shoes by paying attention to what they say and how they say it. Reflect on what they say, and then rephrase what you heard in order to clarify and summarize. Refrain from jumping to conclusions and keep an open mind to their rationale, as well as to their wants, their needs and their concerns. To get what you want, you need to be willing to look at things from others’ points of view as well. You may discover that it is your own perspective that needs altering.
Step #4: Know and Play Your Part
There’s a time to speak, and a time to be quiet. Sometimes, the time to be quiet is precisely the time you most want to speak! When you pause and gain perspective, you give yourself time to choose your best response. The better answer trumps being the first to respond, every time.
If someone else has an idea that is similar to yours, build on their idea. Whatever you think you’ve lost by not offering ‘the right solution’ first, you gain in building an ally for future discussions.
If others’ ideas are taking the discussion away from the solution most agreeable to you, remain composed and seek a quiet moment to introduce your idea as an alternative or to raise a question that may expose a weakness others have not considered in the currently ‘hot’ idea.
Keeping your composure when decisions don’t go your way reaffirms that you are a person of integrity. Others know they can express their own points of view, particularly in difficult conversations. By showing support once a decision has been made, you build your own influence and you’ll gain support for those times in the future when a decision does go your way.
Step #5: Insist on Respect
Following the other four steps I’ve just outlined gives you all the right you need to insist that others treat you with the same respect you’ve shown them when you do get that chance to make a case for your own choice. Be a real person of integrity and insist everyone in the conversation treat each other with respect when the discussion threatens to get out of hand.
Getting what you want every time begins with the goal of reaching the end of the discussion and arriving at a decision with your integrity intact. Sacrificing your integrity to get the decision you want is at best a short-term win.
Live Honest, Open and True
If you’re tried going toe-to-toe with others when its time to make an important decision, next time choose to walk a mile in their shoes and invite them to do the same. You get what you want every time when you show others respect and insist on their respect in return. I believe in you and want the best for you and know you can achieve the best for yourself.
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What is the most difficult part for you in reaching consensus on an important decision at work or at home? What tips do you have for navigating a heated discussion successfully without sacrificing your integrity? Tweet your advice to @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LiveHOT