“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.”
Whenever we teach communication skills, we call out what Americans often do when they travel outside the US and people don’t understand them. They shout. Louder and louder. In English. As if somehow, if they’re just noisier, if their words are at a higher decibel, then people will know what they mean. Even though they’re speaking the wrong language for whatever country they happen to be in.
And yet, this is what we do in general when someone doesn’t understand, or agree with, us. We repeat ourselves, over and over, raising our voices. Getting louder and louder as we get more and more frustrated by being misunderstood, or not understood at all.
This doesn’t work. It doesn’t work when we shout in English at someone who speaks Spanish, or Chinese. And it doesn’t work when we “shout” in our own language, endlessly offering the same arguments and explanations, at someone who disagrees with us.
We need, instead, to learn to speak their language and to explain our point of view – our argument – in words and ideas that will be more easily heard. That make sense to them. That they understand.
We need to find the WIIFT (What’s In It For Them) to listen to us and potentially agree with us. The reason that will move or motivate them to be more open, and to see us as open. When we shout, we shut people down. When we insist on our perspective and ideas – on our language – we turn people away from us and give them very little reason to want to pay attention to what we’re saying. When we improve our argument – and how we offer our argument – we build our chances of getting on the same side of a problem or situation, and of getting to a result that we want.
Where are you shouting? Where could you learn to listen – and speak their language – more?
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If you want to stop shouting, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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