Present, Don’t Persuade

One of the most common mistakes we make in a disagreement is to convince ourselves that we must persuade the other person to see our point of view.

But all we really need to do is lay out the facts or circumstances. Though people are first and fore- most emotional creatures, their emotions are guided by rationality and reason— for  the  most part


When you lay out the facts of a situation—in a calm and collected manner—you appeal to people’s sense of reason. And you demonstrate that you respect their ability to assess the situation with  good judgment.

Persuading people, on the other hand, can come off as manipulative. It can send the message that they’re not sensible enough to  assess  the  facts,  or  that  they’re  not capable  of  making  a  good decision and have to be given passionate direction.

To avoid sending this message, change your tactic. Simply lay out the circumstances or facts of why you have come to your position on a matter, and then give people space—and time—to consider  them.

You will be pleasantly surprised by the results. You may not get agreement on every point, but it’s more than likely the person will at least meet you halfway. Many times that is all you can ask

151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills – Robert Dittmer
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Words: I vs. We

In our daily lives, and in our daily inter- actions with other people, we generally find ourselves using a lot of pronouns: I, me, we, they, them, he, she, and so on. And generally there’s no problem using them. They serve as a sort of shorthand in spoken and written language that simplifies our communication. Very useful

However, one of them can be damaging to relationships when overused. That’s the pronoun I. Here’s the problem with I: It implies a focus on yourself. If used occasionally and sparingly, it’s no problem. However, if used constantly, it leaves people with the impression that the speaker (or writer) is focused only on what the speaker wants, not what others may want


We see this constantly when teaching students to write cover letters for their resumes when job hunting. They want to communicate that they have the skills and abilities to do the job for which they are applying, but in doing so, they use far too many Is, and communicate that they are focused on themselves, not the job or the company.

We see it in small group discussions too. One or more people will constantly express, “Well, I think…,” or “I would like to see…,” or “I expect that….” This all too often results in group   members  feeling as though the person speaking is only focused on his perspective, and not interested in others.

A much better word is we. Especially in group discussions, we connotes a group focus, not an individual focus as does I. We says, “I’m in this with everyone else and I want to support the group outcome.” At the same time, it allows everyone to express their opinions, points of view, ideas, and information in a neutral, group- focused  approach.

151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills – Robert Dittmer


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Be Reasonable

One of the hallmarks of a critical thinker is the disposition to change one’s mind when given a good reason to change. Good thinkers want to change their thinking when they discover better thinking. In other words, they can be moved by reason.

Yet, comparatively few people are reasonable in the full sense of the word. Few are willing to change their minds once set. Few are willing to suspend their beliefs to hear the views of those with whom they disagree. This is true because the human mind is not naturally reasonable. Reasonability, if it is to develop in the mind to any significant degree, must be actively fostered in the mind by the mind. Although we routinely make inferences or come to conclusions, we don’t necessarily do so reasonably. Yet we typically see our conclusions as reasonable. We then want to stick to our conclusions without regard for their justification or plausibility. In short, the mind typically decides whether to accept or reject a viewpoint or argument based on whether it already believes it.

To put it another way, the mind is not naturally malleable. Rather, the mind is, by nature, rigid. It often shuts out good reasons readily available to it. It often refuses to hear arguments that are perfectly reasonable (when those reasons contradict what it already believes).

124To become more reasonable, you need to open your mind to the possibility, at any given moment, that you might be wrong and another person may be right. You need to be willing and able to change your mind when the situation or evidence requires it. You need to recognize that you don’t lose anything by admitting that you are wrong. Rather, you gain.

Strategies for becoming more reasonable:

  1. Notice how seldom people admit they are Notice, instead, how often they hide their mistakes. Most people would rather lie than admit to being wrong. Decide that you do not want to be such a person.
  2. Say aloud: “I’m not I make mistakes. I’m often wrong.” See if you have the courage to admit this during a disagreement: “Of course, I may be wrong. You may be right.”
  3. Practice saying in your own mind, “I may be I often am. I’m willing to change my mind when given good reasons.” hen look for opportunities to make changes in your thinking.
  4. Ask yourself, “When was the last time I changed my mind because someone gave me better reasons for his or her views than I had
  5. When you catch yourself being close-minded, analyze your thinking by completing the following statements in your journal (remember that the more details you write in your journal entries, the better able you will be to change your thinking in future similar situations):
    1. I realize I was being close-minded in this situation ..
    2. The thinking I was trying to hold onto ..
    3. Thinking that is potentially better ..
    4. This thinking is better ..
25 Days to Better Thinking & Better Living – Richard Paul & Linda Elder
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Learn to Empathize with Others

Intellectual empathy requires us to think within the viewpoints of others, especially those we think are wrong. This is difficult until we recognize how often we have been wrong in the past and others have been right. Those who think differently from us sometimes possess truths we have not yet discovered. Practice in thinking within others’ viewpoints is crucial to your development as a thinker. Good thinkers value thinking within opposing viewpoints. They recognize that many truths can be acquired only when they try other ways of thinking. They value gaining new insights and expanding their views. They appreciate new ways of seeing the world. They do not assume that their perspective is the most reasonable one. They are willing to engage in dialog to understand other perspectives. They do not fear ideas and beliefs they do not understand or have never considered. They are ready to abandon beliefs they have passionately held when those beliefs are shown to be false or misleading.


Strategies for empathizing with others:

  1. During a disagreement with someone, switch roles. Tell the person, “I will speak from your viewpoint for ten minutes if you will speak from This way perhaps we can understand one another better.” Afterward, each of you should correct the other’s representation of your position: “The part of my position you don’t understand is….”
  2. During a discussion, summarize what another person is saying using this structure: “What I understand you to be saying … Is this correct?”
  3. When reading, say to yourself what you think the author is Explain it to someone else. Recheck the text for accuracy. This enables you to assess your understanding of an author’s viewpoint. Only when you are sure you understand a viewpoint are you in a position to disagree (or agree) with it.
25 Days to Better Thinking & Better Living – Richard Paul and Linda Elder
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Every Difficult Relationship Has Lessons

As much as difficult relationships can give us heartburn and sleepless nights, they are an essential part of our  growth  as people.


Difficult relationships not only teach us a lot about others,  but they also teach us more about ourselves—such as what pushes our buttons and what boundaries we will not go beyond.

In essence, they are the sandpaper that hones and polishes us. And sometimes the powers that be put these people in our way to teach us lessons and help us grow to new levels of strength and maturity—and  forgiveness.

And difficult relationships—difficult people in particular— give us practice in putting our people skills to the test. It’s been said that it’s easy to be an angel when no one ruffles your feathers. But difficult relationships are the litmus test for how evolved we really are in dealing with people, and managing ourselves in the process.

151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills – Robert Dittmer


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See Conflict or Disagreement as an Opportunity

One strategy for managing conflict is to see it as an opportunity, whether to gain better clarity, straighten out a misunderstanding, correct a mis-communication, or simply to know where you stand with someone.


Conflict can actually be the catalyst for  moving forward. People who avoid conflict or confrontation usually take the duck-and-dodge approach, which is a journey of constant detours around the real issue—and missed opportunities to resolve it.

We have all seen this in the workplace: two coworkers who disagree, but no one really remembers why. Likely, the current relationship started due to a misunderstanding of intentions, or a miscommunication, and the situation has festered and infected every interaction they have. Because neither extended the olive branch of understanding to the other, they have found them- selves in a downward spiral of egotistical pride and unresolved misunderstandings.

But when you accept the conflict at hand and ride it out on the high road, it can present you with a breakthrough. For example, if your finance colleague sees a situation one way, and you see it another, you both have an opportunity: You have an opportunity to learn from where the other person is coming; your finance colleague may be trying to tighten expenditures in your division— and others across the board—so the company can avoid layoffs. In reality, your colleague is looking out for you and others.

When you approach conflict with such an attitude of learning and understanding, you have an opportunity to turn it around,  and reshape it into something valuable.

151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills –  Robert Dittmer


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Don’t Make Things Personal

While you’re working on not taking things personal, also be sure not to make  things personal.

When you make personal digs  at others when conflict arises, you just drag yourself down, and you help  the other person garner sympathy from office colleagues. This type of  behavior  shows  your  maturity—or immaturity—level.

In tense situations, you have to work even harder to practice the Golden Rule, and make a concentrated effort to show others respect. That means you have to pull out all the tools, such as listening, seeking to understand, controlling your thoughts, breathing, and so on.


Particularly control your breathing and your thoughts. The breathing exercise will help you keep your brain from going on autopilot, and will help you keep control of your thoughts and  reactions.

And it’s important to realize that making things personal when conflict arises is exactly that: a reaction. Yet it’s a reaction that can, and  will,  do  permanent  damage.  Don’t  let that  happen.  Don’t make situations personal.

151 Quick Ideas to Improve Your People Skills – Robert Dittmer
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