In part 1 of this mini course on talking (eg. negotiating, pitching, pleading), I talked about listening (and how we think we’re listening – but that’s only because we’re not talking).
Everything we don’t know is because we forget to ask, and the reason for that is because most of us were told to “shut up” as kids (every ‘shut up’ is a rejection, and we can only take so many rejections before we take notice and do as we’re told – which is usually nothing).
So we stay stuck.
Those that don’t stay stuck fall into two groups: the askers, and the doers (note this doesn’t mean they’re successful, that’s something else).
The askers fall into two groups also: they either ask direct questions or they learn rhetoric and ask the same questions indirectly. The former build strong love/hate relationships, the latter build an aura of mystery.
Asking direct questions is the simplest way to get answers, but most of those answers will be stock replies and not necessarily useful.
The problem with ALL questions is personal bias. We know what we don’t want, and if we hear it in the form of an answer, we’ll reject it without further thought. That’s what happens when we stop listening (see part 1).
To understand any answer we have to be open to its interpretation, which means knowing that our personal bias will shape that answer into something we either want to hear or something we don’t.
And by knowing that, we can force ourselves to see our biases for what they are – time savers – and reject that time saving if necessary.
To do this we have to overcome the ancient part of our brain and engage the newer part “no more sabre tooth tigers”.
This is enormously hard to do. Don’t expect an overnight change. New habits can take months (and often years) to form.
Step 1 is to learn to stop reacting. Train yourself to be content with not talking. Practice leaving a gap of 1 second before every reply, then extend it. Who cares that you no longer answer questions immediately? (hint: only you).
At first, your reply won’t be any different (because you’ll be focusing on the gap), but once the gap becomes habitual, you’ll give your brain time to think. And then magic will happen.
This is how you cultivate emotional intelligence (without which you’ll never become a great negotiator). Part 3 is here.