When you deal with others, a certain amount of trial and error is inevitable. You can’t direct the behavior of others with the speed, certainty, and effectiveness with which you control your own results. But a key to personal success is learning how to speed up that process. You can do it by developing rapport, by understanding metaprogarms, by learning how to calibrate others so you can deal with them on their terms. This article is about taking the trial and error that’s inherent in human interaction and increasing the pace of discovery by learning to handle resistance and solve problems.
If there was a key word in the first half of the book, it was modeling. Modeling excellence is crucial to learning to rapidly create the results you desire. The one thing effective communicators have in common is they learn how to calibrate someone and then keep changing their own behavior – verbal or non verbal until they create what they want. The only way to communicate well is to begin with a sense of humility and a willingness to change. You can’t communicate by force of will; you can’t bludgeon someone into understanding your point of view. You can only communicate by constant, resourceful, attentive flexibility.
Often, flexibility doesn’t come naturally. Many of us follow the same patterns with numbing regularity. Some of us are so sure we are right about some thing we assume mere forceful repetition will get us through. There is a combination of ego and inertia at work. Many times it’s easiest to do exactly what we’ve done before. But the easiest is often the worst thing to do. We are going to look at ways to change directions, break patterns, redirect communication, and profit from confusion. The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind. The man who never alters his communication patterns finds himself in the same danger.
We learned earlier that in any system, the machine with the greatest number of options, the most flexibility, will have the greatest effect. It’s the same with people. The key to life is opening up as many avenues as possible, trying as many doors, using as many different approaches as it takes to solve a problem. If you run on one program, work from one strategy, you will be about as effective as a car that runs in one gear.
Mr.F was trying to convince a desk clerk at a hotel to let her keep her room for several hours after checkout time. Her husband has been injured in a skiing accident, and she wanted him to be able to rest until transportation was arranged. The clerk politely and persistently kept giving her all the excellent reasons why it simply wasn’t possible. Mr. F listened respectfully and then kept coming up with even more compelling counter reasons.
Mr.F watched her run the gamut from charm and feminine persuasion to reason and logic. Without ever being haughty or bringing outside pressure to bear, she simply hung in there, pursuing her desired outcome. Finally, the clerk gave her a rueful smile and said, “Madam I think you’re winning. How did she get what she wanted”? Because she was flexible enough to keep producing new behavior and new maneuvers until the clerk was unwilling to oppose her any longer.
Most of us think of settling a dispute as something akin to verbal boxing. You pound through your arguments until you get what you want. Much more elegant and effective models are the Oriental martial arts, like aikido and t’ai chi. There the goal is not to overcome force, but to redirect it not to meet force with force, but to align yourself with the force directed at you and guide it in a new direction. That’s precisely what my friend did, and it’s what the best communicators do.