2.15.2012

9 (Uncomfortable) Steps to Changing Any Conversation.

Any time you try to change a conversation you’re going to get pushed back.

When you try to change the topic some of those around you will try to push the conversation back to where it already was.

That’s where they’re used to having the conversation.  That’s where it is comfortable for them.  After all, the old conversation benefits them.

It’s just a natural reaction.

Without even thinking about it those most invested in a conversation subconsciously push back against any change in the conversation.  It’s automatic.

Which is why you have to get good at knowing how to change the conversation.

And it really all comes down to what you do with that push back.  To be effective you need to learn how to pull when you’re pushed.  That’s the secret to changing any conversation.

You can’t push back.

You pull.

Which automatically changes the balance of power in the fight.

Your opponent is expecting a push so they are leaning forward ready to push back even harder.  When you pull they are completely off-balance.  They are completely unprepared.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Compliment your opponent on what they have done right.  There is always something awesome worth mentioning.
  2. Admit any failures or inaccuracy you might have accidentally created.  Don’t let small innocent problems marinate into future distractions.
  3. Validate any concerns or frustrations the crowd might have.  Make sure your intentions are clearly understood.
  4. Remind those watching of the stake involved.  Take the stakes up a few uncomfortable notches.  Get people to pay attention.
  5. Use emotional imagery to create a powerful idea of possibility choices.  Paint a picture with your words.  Make it rich with passion.
  6. Refuse to tell people what choice they should make for themselves.  Let them feel like they have options other than doing the right thing.
  7. Walk away.  Shake hands.  Be polite.  Exit the debate with a smile.  Confidence is an attractive quality.  (Being cocky isn’t)
  8. Watch as those around you start adopting your new conversations.  Encourage them to take the next step.  Cheer them on from the sidelines.
  9. Repeat as many times as necessary until the conversation is changed.  Any battle worth winning take more than one attempt at breakthrough.  Be disciplined.

It all works together to change the conversation in your favor.

Perhaps it all goes back to a simple observation:

Kindness pulls faster than “a better argument” can push.

It goes against human nature.

Your natural reaction is to get angry.  To get even.  To shove your opponent back and beat them over the head with your better conversation.

That doesn’t work though.  You end up bloodied and your conversation isn’t effective.

You look like a fool.  Your passion is wasted.

Stop pushing.

That might work in the school yard, but it just look silly anywhere else.

Pull the conversation and you’ll see the conversation change.

And that’s what you wanted in the first place.

Try kindness this time.


  • Gary Polsky

    I love your thoughts regarding “pulling back” when you experience pushback from people. A great personal epiphany for me today.  It truly fits in nicely with my philosophy of communication in a professional intimate relationship.  www.apexlifestyledesign.com Thank you very much

    • http://www.DanWaldschmidt.com/ Dan Waldschmidt

      Great point, Gary.  It’s not an automatic reaction to pull back.  Pushing forward is the easy thing to do, BUT it just doesn’t work…

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective.

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