Next time you go into a conversation with someone with the intention of coming out with an agreement think about your ‘buts’ and ‘ands’.

When ever someone is presenting an argument or fighting their case they will ultimately use the word ‘but’ to signify something that they disagree with or are not happy with and it’s something we have learnt to expect over the years. As soon as I say ‘but’ to my son he switches of automatically or gets frustrated because he’s expecting a rejection or a negative response.

Just as the word ‘and’ suggests that there is something else to expect doesn’t it and you would be right wouldn’t you? So choose your words wisely whenever you are seeking an agreement from another party. If you wish to negate the other person’s argument avoid the ‘but’!

Consider the two statements below.

‘I feel very strongly about this issue and I appreciate how you feel too and that is why it’s important to get this right’

‘I feel very strongly about this issue but I don’t think that you do so how are we going to come to any agreement?’

Which statement is letting the other person know you ‘hear’ them and want to work towards a compromise? Which one is more likely to open up the other person to your ideas too?

Likewise consider how each of the statements below would impact on the receiver.

‘I know I ask you to work late some nights but that’s why you got the job in the first place and why you’re still here’

‘I know I ask you to work late and I really appreciate all your efforts but without your valuable contribution we may fail to hit our target’

At the first but (in the first statement) the person is waiting for the negative and they get it so it really doesn’t matter what you say after that as the person has already got the ‘but’ and switched off!

However in the second statement the ‘but’ is qualified by a positive statement (your valuable contribution) and as a result is a more persuasive argument.

The ‘and’ works in the second statement too as it suggests something other than the expected ‘but’ and it allows us to add in a supporting and positive (persuasive) statement too before ending on the ‘but’, which takes the persuasion up another notch.

So yes you can use the ‘but’ but ensure you follow it up with a positive and persuasive argument and use the ‘and’ to negate their argument in a more positive and inclusive way.

It’s The Way You Tell Them

Have you ever wondered why you sometimes say the things you do? Or ever thought about what you actually say? Or do the words tumble from your mouth like the water cascading from a waterfall?

When we speak we wish to be heard or we would keep quiet wouldn’t we? So if we wish other people to listen then perhaps we need to consider them in the equation too. If you want to gain something from a conversation then it has to be a two way stream and not a waterfall, gushing forth in one direction only.

If you want to reach an agreement whether that be at work or at home, then it’s important that you let the other person know that there input is just as important as yours, that way they will feel more open to compromise and therefore reaching an agreement.

If you had laid your request on the table so to speak and the other person had come back with “I don’t care what you think I want……” how motivated would you be to reach some form of agreement?

However If the other person had listened intently and had then begun with “I hear what you are saying and I understand how important this is to you and I would like…..” how much better does that feel? You begin to feel that they actually give a damn  and as a result you are more than likely going to be more open to listening to their side of the argument and reaching a compromise, because they actually ‘care’ don’t they?

The ‘human touch’ is essential in all agreements because we all want to feel valued don’t we and by simply choosing how you respond to an individual’s request or how you put forward your own ideas is crucial to a successful outcome.

So next time  you want to ask for a raise, get the kids to tidy up or get your partner to do a little bit more round the house, then respect them as individuals and express your opinion first (always use ‘I feel’ or ‘I would like…’ never open with ‘you make me feel….’!

And when they come to talk then listen and TELL them you are listening and understanding how they feel even if you don’t! It’s always nicer when someone one ‘understands’ you isn’t it?  

So if you want the kids to tidy up tell them that ‘mummy feels upset when you don’t put your things away and she understands that you don’t like doing it but imagine how great you are going to feel when you get a reward for doing it?’

Try it out tonight and see what response you get and the reward can be an extra bed time story or some cocoa, just a little something to show that you appreciate what they have done just as you would like their appreciation (a little more often) for all the hard work you do!