Ok, let’s face it. We have all been in a situation where we “the other person says that we are wrong, but we know that we are right.” It has happened to me countless times. One important area where this happens is during negotiations. You know that a witness said one thing, but the other side claims that the witness said something else. How you react to this situation can affect the outcome of the negotiations. Recently, I saw an article that in Lifehacker that gave some great suggestions by Roger S. Gil MAMFT. I have included some those suggestions as well as some of my own comments.
- It’s not always necessary to change someone’s mind: Sometimes it’s just plain not worth it to try and change someone’s mind. Unless an issue is serious, it’s occasionally best to just agree to disagree and move on. On many occasions, you don’t even have to agree to disagree. You can simply ignore the comment and move forward. Many times in negotiations, rather than engage in a dialogue over whether a witness made a statement or whether a document was filed timely, you can just gently nudge to a new topic by saying something like, “I understand that you believe that Joe testified that he was at the office at 8 pm. What are your thoughts as to the compensation that Joe might want?”
- Some issues are objective and others are subjective: With concrete issues (like the time, or the height of the tallest mountain), it’s very possible you’re right provided you have observable, objective facts. That’s not the case with subjective issues, and Gil notes that it’s a good idea to know the real difference between the two when someone says you’re wrong: “We have to remember that opinions are usually based on a set of assumptions that are likely unique to the individual. Your “rightness” (no matter how certain you are of it) may really be nothing more than a reflection of your values rather than a reflection of observable facts.” With subjective “rightness,” it is probably not advisable to attack the point that the person is claiming without addressing the underlying issues first.
- Watch Your Body Language. “Body language is important in almost any situation. In the case of dealing with someone calling you out for being wrong, it’s best to just keep your body language as relaxed as possible so you don’t accidentally heat up the debate.” Often, when someone says that you are wrong, you might take it as a challenge or attack on your identity. The fight or flight reaction may activate, and it is important to hold your emotions in check. If you do experience this challenge, think about deep breathing exercises to help calm you or try and identify the reason why the person is “attacking” you, rather than the act itself.
- Show Respect for the Other Opinion. “When trying to defend our perspectives we need to respect the other opposing view if we are to expect the other person to respect our views and possibly change their mind. While snark and sarcasm can be funny, they usually turn others off to our perspective, they can sometimes become a form of bullying, and usually do more to demonstrate our lack of understanding the opposing view than demonstrating it’s “wrongness”. Nothing causes more frustration and angst than the lack of respect in a negotiation. If a person feels that they are respected, they can begin to understand the differences. But if they feel that you have disrespected them (even if you are only disrespecting their opinion), they will immediately go into fight mode.
- Be Silent. Sometimes saying nothing and letting the person have their say can be more powerful than anything that you do so or say.