When you talk to people who oppose your point of view, choose your words carefully.
I remind you of Goethe’s quote: “Every word uttered evokes the idea of its opposite.”
The odds are high that those on the other side of the argument will reflexively fasten onto an offensive word, which could cause them to close down.
Or you could say something that could undermine your own position. Your opponents will fasten on to your error–and interrupt you–undermining your impact.
To remove the sting of their attacks, anticipate likely reactions.
For instance, if you say, “We need to commit resources to long term projects,” mention also that you do not mean to imply that such commitment means cutting back on investment in current needs.
In this way, you demonstrate that you have considered the matter carefully, seen it from all sides, and recognize the concerns of your opponents.
By nipping their objections in the bud, your talk takes the form of a dialogue, except you have the advantage because you can arbitrate the gap between your proposal and reasonable objections to it.
You will be seen as credible and balanced, and your listeners will be more likely to agree.
Clarify your point. Tell them what you’re not saying. Speak to create understanding–and to prevent misunderstanding.
Excerpted from The Essentials of Persuasive Public Speaking by Sims Wyeth. Copyright © 2014, 2011 by Sims Wyeth. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Available at Amazon.
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