“If” – A Big Word in Communication
By Scott McIntyre
You start sharing something you strongly believe in with a friend, and suddenly, you’re in an argument. They don’t accept as true what you think is clear as a blue sky, and you’re both on the verge of calling each other idiots.
What if There was a simple way to defuse these arguments before they start? If such a method existed, would you want to learn about it? If your answer is yes, don’t stop reading.
The “If” Strategy
The No. 1 principal of this strategy is: Always keep your ‘if’ ready.
The moment your friend adopts an argumentative stance on any opinion of yours, take a firm but gentle grasp of your ‘if’ and turn their position around like this:
- When they don’t believe your source is reliable say, “If this information is reliable, what does that mean to us?”
- When they won’t apply your findings to themselves say, “If what I’ve found is true, how would that affect you and I?”
- When they refuse to accept that what you’ve researched has authority over their life, say, “If what I’ve uncovered really is an authoritative disclosure to us, how should we respond to it?”
The second principal is like the first: If at first you don’t succeed, use your ‘if’ again.
People confronted with the ‘If’ strategy may not want to give you the obvious answer to your question. To do so, would be to intellectually assent to the potential truth of your position. Instead, they’ll likely repeat their first argument hoping that will clinch a for their side.
Friend: “Look, I already said that I don’t think what you’ve found is reliable, so your iffy question doesn’t matter.”
Principal No. 2: Acknowledge as much of their statement as possible, and then apply your ‘if’ again.
You: “I know you don’t trust what I’ve showed you, and I respect your opinion, and the right to hold it. Believe it or not, I’m not trying to change your mind, I just want to be sure I’ve communicated clearly what I believe. So, if, and I know this is a big IF, the document was reliable about this issue, what would that mean to us?”
By approaching the truth of your research this way, there’s much less chance of raised voices, especially on your side, and a greater likelihood that your friend will assent to your position. After all, you’re only saying, what if!
And if you’re open to ‘words of wisdom’ from the Bible, here’s another good reason to utilize the ‘If’ strategy; “A gentle answer…” does what?
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