How to talk to an IMPOSSIBLE person
You know the anxious feeling you get when you know that you have to talk to that impossible person in your life? My boss, spouse, mother-in-law best friend sometimes they can be completely impossible! And yet you have to talk to them and it is draining and they never listen. It feels overwhelming and you think about all the things you want to say. But somehow the person never stops talking! So, you interrupt or shut down and that doesn’t give you what you want either. You just want to have a conversation. I’m going to give you a method to get through those conversations. When you use they will calm down and you will have information on how to be persuasive. And i promise when you reach the end you will know what to do when someone is a human hurricane.
A conversation is a two way activity. The person who goes first does not win but they do feel satisfied and powerful if they go first. Allow them to talk for several reasons. One is that they won’t listen to you anyway – that’s what makes them impossible! So, they need and demand center stage. Give it to them It’s what they want and they will run over you to get it allow it you will get your turn. There is a difference when someone overwhelms you and monopolizes the conversation and when you choose to hear their side of the issue first
As they speak you want to listen. Don’t just stand there rehearsing what your going to say when they pause. Get curious! This person is passionately going off the rails. Is there anything in their position that is logical or interesting? Our curiosity level about other opinions (other than our own) is at an all time low. And because of this you are limiting your own growth.
Try to follow their logic because your next step is to paraphrase what you think you heard them say. Remember para-phrase not parrot-phrase. This will have a calming affect on your rager. What they want more than anything is to be heard. You are showing that you have listened. Don’t worry you are not agreeing with them you are making sure you got it right. This is your way of checking in. Too often we play the I speak you speak game without understanding what the other person said or what they meant by it. Ever have a conversation where you would swear a person said something and later on they said they didn’t. Maybe they didn’t mean what you thought they meant. This is your check in to make sure you did understand. At this point they may add information they didn’t say.
While you are listening you are looking for flaws or misinterpretations of the information that you are receiving from the speaker. And you are digging for gold. The gold will be points you do agree with but more on that later.
After you paraphrase ask if you got it right. This is a chance for the speaker to add something or change a misinterpretation on your part. This information is valuable especially when you disagree. By asking them if you heard correctly you are making sure you understand them.
And now it’s your turn
You start with “I can see your point on _______ and come up with something!
Then So, these are my thoughts _____________
Try to piggyback off of some of their ideas. Find their commonalities and give some praise . And then you bring in all those ideas that you have been holding on to. But they have been altered by some of the information the speaker has said because of the way you listened. At this juncture you have given your time, your attention and a thoughtful response. I had a client who could stop a board in its tracks by using this method. Everyone felt heard and he received many votes to proceed with his ideas because he acknowledged everyone’s thoughts.
Most people would flee, shut down or scream back. But not you, you went the distance congratulations! It takes practice to do this but once you master it you can calm the raging storm.