Join Fred Kofman for an in-depth discussion in this video Speaking so you are understood, part of Fred Kofman on Managing Conflict.
- Once you've listened to the other person, you've earned the right to speak. As Stephen Covey says, "Nobody cares how much you know, "until they know how much you care." So the listening part is to show that you care. But now it's time for you to show that you know something, that there are some things that are important to you, and you'd like to state in the conversation to be included in the consideration. Not that you're right and the other person is wrong, but you're right, and the other person is right too. This non-exclusive way of speaking is something you have to learn.
It's not natural. Because the natural way of speaking is what I called toxic. I called it dangerous and toxic, because it takes an opinion, and it presents it as a fact. Most people think that opinions is what you think, and fact is what I think, and that's not true. Anything that depends on your assessment, it's an opinion. And the other person might not share that opinion. So, for example, saying, "You are 35 years old," it's a fact, but saying, "You are an idiot," that's an opinion, and it's a very toxic opinion.
And yet most people speak like, "You're an idiot. "You don't know what you're talking about." "You" language is very dangerous language, because it offends the other person. It excludes them, it chastises them, it makes them feel belittled, so they will naturally react and not listen to you. So just like you listen so that the other person wants to speak, you have to speak so that the other person wants to listen. And the requirement to do that is to present your views in a way that they don't exclude or push out the views of the other person, but in a way that they share the stage with the views of the other person, and then all the views can be integrated.
Now I've noticed something very interesting is that there's a 100% correlation perfect correlation between idiots and people that think different than I do. I don't know any idiots that think like me. Do you know any idiots that think just like you? Okay, I thought so. Now, let me tell you a story about my daughter. I was home with Michelle, my little daughter, she was three years old, and I wanted her to eat broccoli. She would not eat broccoli. She would only eat potatoes, white things.
So I said, "Michi, eat broccoli," and she said, "Eww, it's green!" I'm like, "But Michi, why don't you eat broccoli?" She said, "Because it's yucky. "Broccoli is yucky." And I tried to challenge her, "But Michi, I like broccoli." And she looked at me like, "Daddy, why do you like yucky things?" So she turned it on me, and in her mind, broccoli is yucky, and that's the way broccoli is, and I have the problem because I'm eating yucky things. She's fine! And not only that, but I have it worse, because I want to make her eat yucky things.
Now, we know broccoli is not yucky. She doesn't like it, but in her mind, broccoli's yucky, and that's why she doesn't like it. What we know is she doesn't like it, that's why she calls it yucky. When you are three, that's funny. When you're 43, that's dangerous. Unfortunately, there are a lot of three-year-olds with 40 years of experience. They get to three and then they just stay there year after year after year. And those are the people that say, "You are an idiot." "You're an idiot, and because you're an idiot, "you disagree with me." As opposed to say, "No, you disagree with me, "and because I'm immature, "I call you an idiot." People don't say that.
And yet, that is the truth. If we think about it, that is the fact. The fact is you and I disagree. The fact is I'm resentful or I'm upset or I'm irritated by the disagreement, and I have this toxic thought, "What an idiot," or "You don't know what you're talking about." But that's just a toxic thought. I can let it go. So instead of focusing on my toxic opinion and trying to impose it on you with a unilateral perspective, I'm going to speak in a way that you will understand what I'm saying.
That's the idea of speaking so you want to listen. And I'll start with a statement that respects the fact that it's my opinion, and it will be an "I" statement. This is a statement, not, "You are an idiot," but "I disagree," or, "I don't see it that way," or, "I don't understand how you see that "connected to the other thing "or how you imagine that this is going "to lead us to the outcome."
This course is the first in a series with LinkedIn influencers, a select group of highly influential entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, global leaders, and policy makers chosen to share their thoughts with LinkedIn members. Keep the conversation going. Share these ideas with your own friends and followers.