Check out this video from my friend Julie Broad. You’ll find some interesting insights about what to do when you make mistakes. When you’re done…read on about how to deal with others’ mistakes 🙂
Okay. You’re back. You did watch the video right???
So here’s Part II of the story about mistakes. What do you do when you believe someone else is making a mistake. Or not coming around to your way of thinking?
What do you do when They are making the Mistake?
This is something I see all the time in project management. I have a fact that I need to convey to someone. Okay, it really isn’t a fact…more like my opinion. but isn’t my opinion fact? I digress…
So like Julie mentioned in her video, people tend to either not notice their mistakes, or defend their mistakes or opinions as facts that must be defended at all cost. So how do you change their opinion or come to your side of thinking when they’re dead set on defending themselves?
How do you get someone to change their mind?
Let’s use a little verbal jiu jitsu. I’ll give you a parable that will make the point.
The North Wind and the Sun were debating who is more powerful. They saw a traveler walking along and bet who could make him remove his cloak.
The North Wind blew and blew. The harder he blew, the tighter the traveler clutched his cloak.
So then the Sun came out. Soon the traveler warmed up and got hot. When he got hot he removed his cloak.
And the Sun gloated because she won. Alright, that wasn’t in the story…
So how does this relate to getting people to change their minds?
People don’t like to admit they’re wrong. So how do you take advantage of that knowledge and still bring them to your way of thinking (assuming yours is correct or can be adequately supported)?
You need to first agree with them. Their conclusion was based on something, no matter how faulty you think it is. Second you need to ask for help or their opinion on some aspect that is related to the direction you’re taking them but not a frontal assault.
By doing this you at least have a chance at bringing them around and getting them on your side.
Ask for Help
One method of doing that is when someone has an opinion about something ask that they help you understand the steps to get to that conclusion. You may find they are right. Or you may find a flaw in their process or argument that will allow you to shed more light on it or provide additional information that they were not aware of that would then lead them to a different conclusion. Possibly yours.
So that is the mechanics of it but I think there is an even bigger area where you can get to a positive result.
Your Attitude Matters
And that is the attitude you bring to the persuasion situation. They say “Attitude is Everything”. It might not be everything, but it probably isn’t far from the truth.
A lot of our attitude stems from “Assumptions” we make about things. And a particularly deadly assumption in gaining agreement is assuming the other person has bad intent.
I can’t count the number of normal communications that went haywire due to someone assuming they were trying to undermine them. And when that happens it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So go in with an open, curious, mind. Ask for help. If you can get past your ego you’ll often find the person you’re dealing with is a good person who wants to do a good job and you may find agreement rather than argument in your dealings.