1. You’re right. This phrase allows you to enter into another person’s reality. It shows an open mindness to different opinions and redirects the conversation into a productive direction.
It also acknowledges someone else’s unique point of view. Ultimately, these four results are empathetic and help diffuse emotionally charged individuals.
2. You may be right. Similar to the above example, this phrase diffuses the energy behind someone’s attack AND avoids threatening the attacker. And by giving an impression of active agreement, not passive acquiescence, it avoids adding fuel to the fire.
What’s more, ‘You may be right’ validates a particular part of someone’s argument. Which doesn’t mean you TOTALLY agree with her. But, it does make it easier for the other person to hear your side of the story by way of reciprocation.
3. I agree with you. Similarly, this phrase ‘agrees with thy adversary quickly,’ as the old scripture suggests. It builds common ground on a point of mutual agreement and aligns you with the other person. That way, you’re both on the same side.
Which is how resistance dissipates.
Which makes moving toward a solution flows a LOT smoother.
4. This seems really important to you. This phrase is especially effective when someone shoots down EVERY idea you suggest. It identifies someone’s motives and challenges them to honesty examine their emotions, which, if they’ve lashed out at you, probably isn’t something they’ve done yet.
5. Wow, you really want to know badly! Similarly, this phrase helps uncover the motivations of someone who seems bit too persistent. Maybe even bordering on pushy.
For example, if a person you’ve just met asks you LOTS of probing questions on the same topic, or constantly asks you the same question over and over again, maybe it’s time to step back and ask why.
6. You must be having a really bad day. Unexpected and empathetic. Demonstrates concern, especially with an irate customer. Also, this phrase assures that you don’t take ownership of the other person’s problem. This ultimately allows them to cool off and approach their situation in a calm, collected manner.
7. I forgive you. When someone is flustered, running late or apologizing profusely, using these three words is almost like a magic tonic. Especially when it’s with a stranger.
See, the peaceful, tender and caring energy of ‘I forgive you’ is incredibly powerful. And, observing the way people respond when you say, ‘I forgive you’ is a GREAT mini-lesson in momentum reversal.
8. Thank you. When someone brings a problem or complaint to your attention, make sure the first words out of your mouth are ‘Thank you,’ and not ‘I’m sorry.’
‘Sorry’ is negative and self-blaming, and people say it WAY too often. Especially when they’ve done nothing wrong. So, responding by thanking someone doesn’t mean you’re evading responsibility. If an apology is in order, say it. Just don’t LEAD with it. Instead, after you’ve thanked (aka, honored) the upset person, only THEN say, ‘I apologize,’ or ‘I’m sorry. You deserve better.’
9. I respect your opinion of my work. If everybody loves your brand, you’re doing something wrong! Likewise, if everybody loves your idea, it’s probably not that good of an idea. So, next time someone expresses a dislike for your work – especially in an attempt to fluster, insult or embarrass you – do three things.
First, pause. Second, breathe and smile. Third, tell the person, ‘I respect your opinion of my work.’ As someone who’s been made fun of A LOT, I can (almost) guarantee you they’ll NEVER see THAT one coming! And as a result, you’ll not only leave them with nowhere to go; but you’ll project an attitude of open mindedness and acceptance. Jerks.
10. Silence. Lastly, sometimes the best way to reverse the momentum of an overly aggressive or hostile person is to say nothing at all. To just shut up and let them vent. See, in many cases, that’s all they WANTED: someone to listen to them. To honor them.
Or, in some cases, that’s all they NEEDED: someone to serve as a sounding board so they could hear how absurd their words actually were! In either case, not responding (at all) to someone’s aggression lowers the temperature of the conversation and allows that person to compose himself.
NOTE: Silence is an extremely challenging approach for both parties. See, we live in a hyperspeed; A.D.D. culture where time is money and the meter has started.
That’s why people are so afraid of silence.
At the same time, however, that’s ALSO why it can be so powerful.