For coaching, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 817-734-1471.TODAY WE LOOK AT How to talk to difficult people in trying situations, from someone who teaches police how to talk.
Dr. George Thompson is the founder of Verbal Judo Institute. In their words, "Verbal Judo, or Tactical Communications, is the gentle art of persuasion that redirects others [sic] behavior with words and generates voluntary compliance. Further:
The principles and tactics taught enable graduates to use "Presence and Words" to calm difficult people who may be under severe emotional or other influences, redirect the behavior of hostile people, defuse potentially dangerous situations, perform professionally under all conditions and achieve the desired outcome in the encounter.
For CorrectionsOne (police work), Dr. Thompson wrote an article called "7 Things Never to Say to Anyone, and Why". Click on the link to read the full article. Here are some excerpts:
Preface: "Safety lies in knowledge. If you deal with cagey street people, or indeed difficult people at all, anywhere, you need to watch your tongue! The 'cocked tongue' can be more lethal than the 9 millimeter or the 45."
In emotional intelligence terms, we would say get up from the reptilian brain (pressure, emotions, tension) and connect with the neocortex - and THINK before you speak.
The 9 millimeter or the 45 - we know we're in police territory here. Let's proceed.
7 Things Never to Say to Anyone and Why*
*You will note in #5 how he follows his own advice. He tells us "the rules" and then tells us "why".
1. "HEY YOU! COME HERE!"
Because this warns the person and actually 'means' run away. Of interest: The ancient samurai knew never to let an opponent pick the place of battle for then the sun would always be in your eyes!
2. "CALM DOWN!"
Point: We all know it never works. Why do we use it? You create a new problem.
Suggested alternatve: "It's going to be all right. Talk to me. What's the matter?"
3. "I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU AGAIN!"
What's wrong with this? Because you know -- as well as they do -- that you ARE going to say it aain. If you fail to adhere to this, which you will, you lose credibility, and with that goes your power and safety.
4. "BE MORE REASONABLE!"
What's wrong with this one? Well, as Thompson says, did you ever have anyone come up to you and say, "Hey, I know I'm stupid and wrong, but here's what I think!"?
For suggested alternatives on all these, read the full article. The focus: Tactics over natural reactions.
5. "BECAUSE THOSE ARE THE RULES" (or "THAT'S THE LAW!")*
Thompson says this irritates people and makes you look weak. He adds, "we know that at least 70% of resistant or difficult people will do what you want them to do if you will just tell them why! " Explain! It gets your ego out of it, and helps the other save face.
*In many families, this is "Why? Because I said so!"
6. "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?"
It's a "snotty" and "useless" phrase, says Thompson. The immediate natural reaction, he says, is "I don't have one, you do!" which is a reaction that now hides a real need for help.
7. "WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO ABOUT IT?"
It's always sarcastic. When you use it, says Thompson, "you can count on two problems: the one you started with and the one you just created by appearing to duck responsibility."
Remember, insult strengthens resistance and shuts the eyes.
Civility weakens resistance and opens the eyes!
It's tactical to be nice!
My father, a lawyer and former Chairman of the SEC, often said "It's just common decency." Which makes me think of Will Rogers' -- there's nothing "common" about it.
Words are behavior. Only human beings have them to use. It is nice to be civilized and smart to be prepared and to think before you speak.