Thursday, December 27, 2007

Refuse the Sucker's Choice

Either / or choices are Sucker's Choices. The best at dialogue refuse Sucker's Choices by setting up new choices. They present themselves with tougher questions that turn the either/or choice into a search for the all-important and ever elusive and. In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about how to search for the elusive AND.

Searching for the Elusive AND
Here's the key steps to searching for the elusive and:

  • Step 1. Clarify What You Really Want
  • Step 2. Clarify What You Really Don't Want.
  • Step 3. Present Your Brain With a More Complex Problem.
Step 1. Clarify What You Really Want
First, clarify what you really want. For example, "What I want is for my husband to be more reliable. I'm tired of being let down by him when he makes comments that I depend on."

Step 2. Clarify What You Really Don't Want.
Second, clarify what you really don't want. For example, "What I don't want is to have a useless and heated conversation that creates bad feelings and doesn't lead to change."

Step 3. Present Your Brain With a More Complex Problem.
Third, present your brain with a more complex problem. For example, "How can I have a candid conversation with my husband about being more dependable and avoid creating bad feelings or wasting our time?"

Is There a Way to Accomplish Both
Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler write:

With surprising regularity, when people are asked: "Is it possible that there's a way to accomplish both?" they acknowledge that there very well may be.

  • Is there a way to tell your peer your real concerns and not insult or offend him?
  • Is there a way to talk to your neighbors about their annoying behavior and not come across as self-righteous or demanding?
  • Is there a way to talk with your loved one about how you're spending money and not get into an argument?"
Key Take Aways
I'm an "and" kind of a guy, so this nugget certainly resonates with me. Here's my key take aways:
  • Don't fall prey to a Sucker's Choice. A Sucker's Choice is a this or a that, an either / or ... etc. The assumption is that you have to trade one thing for another.
  • Find an "and" solution over "either / or". Find a way to have it both ways. Challenge yourself to seek the higher ground.
  • Know what you want and what you don't want. Stating what you want and don't want are powerful because they clarify your intentions. Clarifying what you don't want can be particularly powerful because of the principle of contrast. It can can also help take away perceived threats. Clarifying intentions is an important step because it's easy to get lost in the content and lose sight of the real intentions. Your intentions guide you through your dialogue.


alik said...

this great recipe can be easily adapted to run a successful meeting! i can rephrase it:
- set an agenda [what you really want]
- set and expected outcomes [what’s beyond this is what you really do not want]
- stay focused on it [that is hell complex problem :), people easily tend to get distracted during the meeting]

J.D. Meier said...

Great to hear. I think even just knowing the types of roles we play helps (Manager, Entrepreneur and Technician - Another thing that might help is Six thinking Hats ( You can both wear the same hats at the same time to agree on perspectives. This helps with rapport. If you don't first build rapport, influence is a challenge.

Andrew Nuttall said...

This is great stuff - especially for the practical applications. One thing I've noticed is that substituting the word 'And' for 'But' is great for diffusing tension and gaining agreement. 'But' negates whatever goes before it, such as what the other person said, whereas 'And' is inclusive and presupposes that there is room for both perspectives. Often, I find that new solutions are synthesized when I take this approach.

J.D. Meier said...

Hey Andrew -

> 'And' is inclusive and presupposes that there is room for both perspectives
Well put!