People are idiots. Not all people of course, just a few that you must relate to on a regular basis due to circumstances beyond your control. They come across as superior and condescending when they are most often wrong in their assessment. They are confidently incorrect. (Idiots)
The natural response is to show them exactly where they are wrong and why. That should solve the problem, right? The truth is, such an approach usually delivers the opposite result.
Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art form deriving from it’s more ancient cousin Judo. It teaches the clever tactic of using the opponent’s weight again him. Suppose a man who weighs a hundred and fifty pounds attempts to stop an attacker head on who weighs three hundred pounds. Only a grease spot would remain. By using Jiu-Jitsu, the smaller man can use the momentum already created in the attack and force the assailant to continue in the direction he was going then land him on his keister.
In the same way, it is never a good idea to stop someone’s argument head on. To say, “You are wrong and here is why,” leads to an inevitable clash. Instead we should begin where they are. Acknowledge any validity we can recognize or at least an understanding of why they believe as they do.
In his book, “How to win friends and influence people,” Dale Carnegie says, “You can never win an argument.” If you lose you lose. If you succeed in showing the other person how wrong they are you will hurt their feelings and they will resent you. You lose again.
A clearly better way is to begin with any common ground you can find. Carnegie suggests this as a starting point, “I don’t blame you one iota for feeling as you do. If I were you, I would undoubtedly feel just as you do.” You may be thinking, “Because if I were you, I too would be an idiot,” but that is best left unsaid.
Once you have established a willingness to listen, a new kind of battleground emerges. One where fear of being exposed as a fool has been removed. In this atmosphere, your opponent is more likely to hear your point of view so that you can gently bring him over to your side and onto his metaphorical keister. And I mean that in the nicest way. Begin where the opponent is. Use that momentum to bring him over to your side. Verbal Jiu-Jitsu.
In her “Psychology Today” article, “6 Ways To Win An Argument,” Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne says, “An argument needs hope. There needs to be a way out for both parties where there exists creative solutions. This can lead any disagreement straight to victory.”
Imagine how this approach could affect a marriage. How would an openness to hear the other point of view first, pave the way to a quicker resolve? How would it affect the bottom line of a business or the longevity of a friendship?
And there is the remote possibility that the other person is ninety percent right. What if their point of view sheds light on an area where you were short sighted or negligent? What if they are not an idiot after all? Would you not appreciate their approach to hear your side of the matter, acknowledge your opinion and bring you gently to a different perspective? For the sake of the friendship, the marriage or the business, the more important issue is to help the other save face and to treat one another with dignity and respect.
As hard as it is to accept, there is the ever so slight possibility that, dare I say it, you could be less than a hundred percent accurate in your point of view. Has this ever happened to me? Never.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Jose Manuel Gasalla