You’re Never Persuasive When You’re Abrasive


How do you get through to someone whose guard is always up? How do you deal with someone whom you disagree with or have a conflict with? What about those who hurt you? These are questions everyone needs to deal with regardless of where you are in an organization. If you are a leader, these issues are especially important to resolve. The key is to use pleasant words so that you don’t offend others. It takes wisdom and maturity. A proverb said, “Gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”

When someone’s guard is already up, you can’t be in their faces pushing your agenda. Instead, speak persuasively by using words that are pleasant and gentle. Do everything you can to keep from offending them. You can do this by making the effort to understand where they are coming from. Empathy always wins. The starting point is to listen carefully so you can empathize with their feelings. When you value a relationship, work towards empathizing with the other person’s doubts, fears, and interests. Their doubts may not be your doubts, but try your best to empathize with them anyway. You may not have the same fears, but show sympathy and seek to understand their concerns. Whatever they are interested in, show interest in it too.

When somebody is hurting you, they don’t need a lecture; they need a listener. The reason most people hurt others is that they’re hurting inside. Hurt people hurt people. That’s why you have to look beyond the hurt that you’re experiencing and ask, “What is hurting them inside that’s causing them to hurt me?” This is hard work, because when you are angry, you are naturally focused on yourself. Unfortunately, we are often abrasive when we are angry. So, make a mental shift. Take some time to calm down before you react, so that you can speak with gentleness. The angrier you are, the longer it takes for you to calm down. Try counting from one to ten or one to twenty before reacting. If you’re furious, walk away, count from one to one hundred.

When you sit down with a person you’ve had conflict with or disagreement with, if your approach is, “Let me tell you all the things that you’re doing wrong and why,” you’ll build all kinds of barriers. Be persuasive by using words that build up and encourage. People already feel guilty. They don’t need you to make them feel worse. You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. Ignoring the conflict or disagreement or avoiding that person doesn’t work either. Take the lead and say, “We’re not going to avoid it anymore. We’re not going to just appease each other and pretend everything is okay. Let’s deal with it”. One of the real values of conflict is that when you resolve it, it always creates greater understanding. The very thing that you think is often going to separate you, will actually bring you closer and make your relationship stronger. In order to get to the issue, learn to sympathize and empathize with others. “Be full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds.”

As another proverb said, “A wise, mature person is known for his understanding. The more pleasant his words, the more persuasive he is.”

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