Have you seen someone make this mistake?
You’ve been asked to give input to the customer or team on an important decision. Someone else in the room speaks up before you can contribute…
And immediately recommends something you strongly disagree with. As soon as you hear it, you likely do two things:
You decide they are wrong.
You start thinking about all the counter-arguments you can come up with.
The Big Mistake
Most people frame the reason for their opinion after they’ve already stated it. Regardless of whether you concentrate on how wrong they are or how many counter-points you have, you’ve stopped listening to them.
That’s bad news for them because you’re missing the rationale for their opinion. They may have squandered a great opportunity to change your thinking.
And it’s probably bad news for you.
You’ve Likely Done It, Too
Why bad news for you? Well, most people start by stating their opinion and then explaining why they think the way they do.
Chances are, you’ve done it too.
And people react to you the same way you do to them: they decide you are wrong and they start thinking about all their counter-arguments.
There is a way better way. Follow the three steps below to disagree in an agreeable way and have a better chance of influencing the other party.
1. Start With Credible Evidence
If you knew how the Super Bowl was going to end, you’d be less likely to watch it. After all, what’s the point when the cat’s already out of the bag?
That’s exactly why you shouldn’t start with your opinion. Once people know exactly where you stand, there’s less incentive to listen to your rationale.
Instead, start with credible evidence. Give an example that will support your opinion. Cite facts that would lead someone into what you’ll recommend. Tell a story about a customer who had a great experience with what you’re going to suggest.
If you’re unsure how to do this, here are seven ways you can use evidence to support your opinion. Find one or two that work best in your situation and start there.
2. Make a Clear Connection
Once you’ve cited evidence, you’ll need to connect the dots to line up with the opinion you’re about to give.
Did you just tell a story about a disaster that a customer had with the new software? Be clear on the implications. You might say, “That recent issue indicates to me that our customers aren’t prepared for this new update.”
What’s obviously apparent to you may not be on the radar screen of the other party. Indicating what the evidence shows makes it clear how it relates to your forthcoming opinion.
3. State Your Opinion
Only after you’ve cited credible evidence and made a clear connection on what it indicates do you state your opinion. An effective way to begin is, “Therefore, I believe…”
It’s worth noting that following this process does not mean others will agree with you. However, people will be more likely to listen to you rationale and, even if they don’t agree, understand how you came to your conclusion.