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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#97: Verbal Jiu Jitsu

Often, when we suggest something in a meeting—perhaps a new idea, perhaps a change in process, maybe a radical re-imagining of the whole company—we're met with the response, "That'll never work."

And, usually, we respond with "Why not?" Which only leads us further down the path of negative bias and re-affirms in the objector's mind why this thing/idea/plan won't work. Last week, I learned some really cool verbal jiu jitsu to get through this part of the conversation and I had to share it with you, gentle reader.

Instead of saying "Why not?", say "What would it take to make it work?"

Mind. Blown.

I mean, how awesome is that? Instead of getting the person(s) making the objection to further explain all the ways it won't work, you get them focused in the direction you'd like them to go—toward a solution. You aren't reinforcing their negative bias, and you aren't spending time arguing (the least effective use of anyone's time). You used their own momentum and re-directed it to something productive.

I'm putting that phrase—What would it take to make it work?—in my permanent rotation, and I recommend you do, too. It's brilliant.

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