- Thoughts for inspired living

March 13, 2009

Explain Yourself!

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 9:35 am

Did you ever notice that some people who ask for an explanation don’t want to be explained to?

If you start explaining to these folks, you are stepping in front of a firing squad.

The telltale sign is their request has the tone of a demand. This is the leading indicator that, even if you come up with the Wisdom of Solomon, your explanation will be wasted. It’s not that they can’t comprehend; they just aren’t listening because they aren’t the least bit interested in your answer. They just want what they want.

The request for an explanation is just a disguise. The sooner you recognize the costume, the less of a harangue you’ll have to deal with.

I have never been able to successfully negotiate with someone who has a fixed position – they want what they want.

All logic is blocked by a person acting like a blockhead.

Reminds me of a story . . .

Radio stations, by and large, take few song requests. Yes, they have request shows but that’s no guarantee you’ll get your song played. Many conversations go like this:

“Can you play I Bought The Shoes That Just Walked Out On Me’ By Wynn Stewart?”

“I’m sorry sir, I don’t have that song available to play.”

“Why not?” (clue)

“It’s not a song that our boss allows us to play.”

“Why not?” (clue 2)

“It doesn’t fit our format. Our format is current popular music and that song is an old Country song that most of our listeners don’t know, and I am not allowed to play songs that are out of our format.

“Why not?” (clue that you’re in deep doo-doo)

“Like I said, I’m not allowed to play that song. It would cost me my job. Is there another song I can play for you?”

“Why do you have a request show if you don’t play requests? Play it anyway.”

The conversation goes on and on and always ends up with them taking the position – I want what I want.

How much energy do you waste by engaging with someone whose only position is – I want what I want?

“I want what I want” always communicates that I don’t care about you. It’s a blinded agenda that’s harmful to everyone in its path.

Bring to mind the young child throwing a fit in the supermarket and you’ll have a clear picture of what you look like if you advertise, “I want what I want.”

This mindset discounts everyone’s point of view but yours. You can easily tell a person with this agenda in a face to face conversation. They have glazed over eyes, while pretending to listen to your point of view and chomping at the bit to speak.

The prescription for this is one I’ve mentioned before – Shorten the storm.

Never discuss logic during a storm. How often have you seen a parent attempt to reason with a child throwing a fit? How hard were you laughing? If you want a screaming child to move from point A to point B, you could wait and let the storm run its course, a luxury most don’t have. You could reason with the child which NEVER works, or you could gently cradle the child and physically move them where you need them to go without saying a word. It dispenses with the useless logic and prevents the storm from doing any more damage.

It’s not any different with a storming adult who is acting like a child. Stop explaining.

This is not a suggestion to stop exchanging ideas with someone. That conversation usually moves in a measurable direction. It’s when it becomes an “I want what I want” rant that it becomes dead in the water.

When you recognize that you’ve stepped across the threshold into the “Land of No End,” it’s time to back out. The strategy is to politely decline to continue the conversation and then say nothing. Remain silent.

There is nothing you can say that will keep this horror from ending, so don’t say anything.

Silence is the same strategy that professional negotiators use. They will tell you if you are buying a car and the sales person comes back from his manager with a counter-offer, don’t speak after the counter offer is given. The salesperson will fill up that silence and, more often than not, will drop the price even further without you debating with them.

“What if they gave a war and no one showed up?” is a winning strategy. No words, no war!

Back to our radio example . . . What would happen if you recognized the conversation was going nowhere and offered:

“Sir, I decline to talk about this further” and then said nothing.

I can tell you my experience. The person would hang up within 15 seconds and go regale someone else with their one-way agenda.

Silence is your friend. Not only can you successfully use it in negotiations, you can employ it to deliver less stressful moments when dealing with the “I want what I want” crowd.


All the best,


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