To a certain degree none of us are completely rational. Some of are more emotional than others, some of us rely less on facts and more on instincts. If you’re trying to settle a case where the other party doesn’t seem to be well grounded in the facts and acting very emotionally that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Lifehack has some suggestions for when you’re trying to argue a point (like why an offer should be accepted or why an offer needs to be improved) with someone who seems impervious to facts or logic. They might work for you.
Don’t intentionally push their buttons
If after studying the file, speaking with your client and spending some time negotiating you may discover those emotional buttons that can wind him or her up and set them off. As frustrated as you may be, don’t go down this path. It’s counter-productive and may validate the other person’s irrational behavior. Keep things professional by only bringing up relevant comments.
This may be essential to winning your argument. Objective proof should be hard to deny, so document your position as best you can. If you can show the truth of what you’re saying in a way that’s difficult, if not impossible, to deny is a good way to try to turn the tide.
Bring up logical fallacies
An irrational person may use a warped sense of logic to justify their position. Politely expose the weakness or nonexistence of that logic. Use examples of how the person’s version of logic leads to ridiculous results.
Argue ideas, not about each other
It’s not about you or the other person. It’s about reaching a settlement that’s good for your client. As much as you may want to, don’t insult the person. Focus on the disagreement and how it might be resolved.
Use ‘we’ not ‘you’ or ‘I’
You want the parties to come together so use language that can help accomplish that goal. Don’t say ‘you’ or ‘I’ because it unnecessarily creates a divide between the two of you that could grow further. Using ‘we’ shows you want both sides to join together, encouraging the irrational person to see your point of view.
Respect the person and their position
Treat the other party as you would want to be treated. Being rude and showing disrespect will only create more of the same. Arguments have at least two sides and it’s OK to disagree with a position but completely dismissing it can be seen as showing disrespect.
Apologize if you are wrong
While trying to get that irrational person to see things your way, you may have hurt their feelings, intentionally or not. If so, acknowledge it, apologize and move on. An irrational people may have a hard time letting go of being hurt and without an apology it’s unlikely they will try to understand your point of view.
Know when to stop
You did your best. You fought the good fight but ultimately facts and logic didn’t win the day, despite your best efforts. That’s OK. Perhaps after some time has passed the other party might see things your way and understand that settling the dispute on your proposed terms is better than continuing down the litigation path.
If you’re the one who can’t let go, maybe you’re the irrational one. Respect the fact the other party doesn’t share your position. End by saying something like, both sides have learned about each other and their positions and hopefully you’ll be able to build on that to resolve the conflict in the near future.
Actually believing that may not be rational but at least you should say it. You never know what the other party may decide the next say. Totally switching positions may not be rational, but that’s not the kind of person you’re dealing with.