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When They Don’t Let Facts Confuse Them

Last week’s post was about developing the capability to identify what you want and know what you’re doing, today’s post is about what happens when you have no such problem. You know what you want, you know why you want it, and you know what you’re doing.

Still, you find your ideas dismissed at work, or are treated as small and inexperienced in an interview, even though you know you have the right knowledge and experience to be of value. Perhaps you find yourself often told off or disparaged in a particular friendship or family relationship.

First you must assess what kind of problem you are facing:

1. The Benign Case:

You have not yet managed to transmit the knowledge of your capabilities from you to a generally good-willed and receptive counterpart, and want to figure out how to do so.

2. The Malignant case:

You’re faced with situations where particular people in the room refuse to accept that knowledge, ignoring the fact that you are indeed capable and confident, or feel threatened enough by it to compulsively belittle you.

Let’s focus on the second, tougher case to crack.

Here’s what facing “those who do not let facts confuse them” might look like: you find your successes attributed to the work of others, have weaknesses they may or may not have exaggeratedly pointed out to you or are persistently informed that you are too inexperienced, unprepared or upset to do something.

It is a natural human tendency to assess a situation and adapt to it based on the feedback you get. In a healthy negotiation, this is a positive thing- for example, If I sense from people’s expressions that I’m speaking too loud, I’ll lower my voice. But that natural tendency should be thrown straight out the window when faced with a person who insists on behaving as described in the second case.

When colleagues, bosses, or friends tell you you’re upset and confused when you’re not, publicly chastise you for sharing an opinion “too boldly”, interrupt, belittle or blatantly ignore you, active effort must be made to avoid internalizing that feedback and deflect it with grace.

Here are three things you can do when you face this kind of situation:

1. Don’t feed the troll:

Succumbing to toxic dynamics by losing your temper or letting it get to you spurs the offender on. Remember you have the same power to shape the dynamic in the room as your counterpart and do not have to accept the role they are putting you in.

This is something I discuss extensively in my online course. If a colleague tries to lead you into a dynamic in which you do all the more demeaning work, for example, you get to say “no thank you” and propose a different dynamic.

2. Stay the course: How about we focus on if I’m right or not?

Life becomes so much better when you learn to use this tool! If when voicing your opinion, you’re accused of being “opinionated” (literally meaning that you have an opinion on things. Burn the witch!), bossy or preachy, side-step the punch, and ask to focus on the merits of what you’ve proposed.

Let’s take what we discussed in previous posts as a baseline: You are already confident in what you want, and are unfazed by hot air. So, when a counterpart attempts at mud-throwing, usually meant to allow them to save themselves from having to address what you’ve said, embrace the accusation to the point where its irrelevance is made painfully clear.

You could use any loose variation of “Sure, I’m opinionated and bossy, later we can find a couch and analyze my childhood. Now having said that, I still need to know if there is a reason your department was not able to provide the documents it committed to provide us with at the beginning of the month?”.

The wording and tone can be different, you can add humour, empathy, or assertiveness to taste. The main point here is to shift the conversation from name-calling and bias to discussion based on the merits of your argument.

3. Think of the Law of Large Numbers:

If you are not a tiny pushover most of the time, have faith that in an environment where people know you, the room will not forget who you are because one person suggested you are small or incompetent.

Even if you’ve not yet built a reputation, if you manage to keep your calm and self confidence, and let show how little of a base in reality that person’s claims have, you’ve won the situation. And if you do that repeatedly, the one time you didn’t really doesn’t matter.

At the end of the day, it's all about staying the course and keeping your footing - even when faced with a counterpart that deliberately tries to trip you.

I wish you a happy new year 2020, and a decade full of engagement in constructive and successful negotiations! Next year Negotiatress will be back with a new format and many more workshop dates!

If you haven’t yet done so, indulge yourself in the Negotiatress feelgood, kick-ass playlist to get you into the right mindset for any negotiation!

See you next year!

Yasmine Guerin

Founder of Negotiatress

Originally posted on December 29, 2019 by Negotiatress


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