Monday, November 05, 2012

Instead: A powerful word for moving conversations

It is the way our brains are made. We fixate on problems and danger and obstacles. Ask anyone about their pet peeves and you will unleash a flood of words. Ask someone what they want, and you are liable to hear about all the reasons that what they want doesn't matter. It is easy for a conversation to grind to a halt when it is carrying the weight of so much that is wrong.

If you want to move forward, you need the word instead.

Repeat some of the troubles you hear (to show that you are listening) and then ask: what would you like instead? Instead means in the place now occupied by the trouble. To answer the question, the speaker has to imagine a world where the trouble no longer exists. It has been replaced by something else.

The something else may, of course, be accompanied by new troubles.  Once again, repeat what you are hearing and then ask: what would you like instead? After two or three repetitions, the speaker will pick up the pattern and begin to automatically replace the objections with a desired future. You will have something defined towards which you can move.

In the place of a flood of troubles, you will have a tangible goal. Instead of an obstacle, you will have a path forward.

Instead.

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