We received some client feedback the other day regarding an online survey and a variety of proposed changes. While the survey was fine as it was, we tried to implement as many proposed changes as possible from one of the client team members. The result of those changes was an online survey that was clearly tighter and better than it had been before. The key was starting with a listening attitude instead of a defensive attitude.
Find Agreement Amid Differing Opinions
A big part of being able to find agreement with someone you expect will have a different opinion than yours, at least in my experience, is your attitude even before you begin what might be an adversarial conversation.
Before you begin talking is the time for strategic thinking – not about what you will be saying – but about what you will be listening for in the conversation.
By adopting an open and positive strategic listening approach in a potentially adversarial conversation, you can be attuned to ways to start building understanding rather than picking out arguments to refute.
10 Things to Listen for in an Adversarial Conversation
What should your strategic listening approach predispose you to listen for with the other party? Here are ten things you will want to be listening for to build agreement:
1. A little snippet of an idea you can agree with to get started.
2. An opinion you used to agree with and can use as a point of departure.
3. A situation with which you have experience or empathy.
4. An accomplishment from the other person you respect.
5. Experience the other person has that warrants consideration.
6. Ideas you can implement without any issues.
7. Points on which you are willing to compromise your position.
8. Differences of opinion where you are willing to concede.
9. Perspectives you had not previously considered that will make your effort better.
10. Principles that are not worth arguing about to try and change in the other person.
This list of ten things to listen for in an adversarial conversation is pretty obvious. Yet how often do you see people going into a challenging situation looking for a fight instead of looking for things to agree with right off the bat?
If you can find agreement, no matter how small it is, you have a place to start talking productively. And that is the start of bigger, more complete agreement.
Do you agree? - Mike Brown
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