I have been working on editing, layout and graphics for some self-improvement books (shameless plug: I am awesome at book layout, formatting for print and ebook and now I know CreateSpace!), one of which is about Communication. So, as I go through this text, I can’t help but absorb some of its lessons and I am starting to pay more attention to my own communication patterns, speech, and habits. I have noticed distinct tactics and phrases I use frequently in my daily life to
influence others to do my bidding facilitate better cooperation and understanding between people. These tactics and phrases are surprisingly simple and not quite what you’d expect. True to my generous nature, I am now sharing this wisdom with you — may these phrases help you in your own communications…
Turn No into Yes (ie, you just missed your Persuade roll)
Try saying, “Oh, come on!” with your most winning smile. If you can, follow it quickly with an additional offer. Works three out of four times for me. Example:
Me: Why don’t you guys stay a little longer for a quick game of Catan?
“Luna”: I need to go feed my cats. They aren’t fat enough and they’ll think I stopped loving them if I feed them at midnight instead of 11…
Me: Oh, come on! You can be green.
Although the success rate is admittedly much lower when I’m trying to complete a lop-sided trade in Catan…
Me: I’ll trade you a sheep for that ore you just got!
Garian: No, I don’t need sheep…
Me: It can dance! Why don’t you give me two ore for this amazing sheep?
Me: Oh, come on!
Garian: Well, let me think about it… NO.
That was a dramatization. But seriously, try it. It works. And you have nothing to lose — they already said No.
When You Aren’t Getting Your Way
Try looking distressed and sincere while you say in a very serious tone, “But you don’t understand — I want to.” Keep attempting to do what you were doing before and see if the person has the nerve to deny you after that heartfelt explanation. This should NOT be used to infringe on other people’s safety, personal space, or rights, however — I may be “evil,” but there are lines, and great power = responsibility, etc. so play nice.
The Ultimate Argument Winner
This conversational gambit is awesome and there is so far no discovered counter for it. It’s my go-to whenever someone criticizes something about me or my life, and when you are just failing to see eye to eye and need the scene to end, this will do the trick nicely. I can’t, however, take credit for this one… cue flashback effects:
I once did some time filling in as a Legal Secretary for a friend while she had an afternoon class. The lawyer she worked for was reputed to be a very good lawyer, but quite possibly either a sociopath or the Anti-Christ (reports were varied). Anyway, she didn’t give me much trouble, so I thought maybe there was some exaggeration at work. Until one day… I was typing some document or other from recorded dictation (because she’d hand-write even her emails, record them, have them typed, printed, she’d proof them, make changes, have them typed again, printed and after she signed off on them they could be sent or printed on letterhead) when her adult son came by the office to make some copies. The copier was behind my desk, so he was back there copying away when the lawyer came in and started talking with him. This somehow turned into an argument with her standing in front of my desk, while I attempted to shrink down and turn the dictation tape up louder and louder as they shouted at each other over my head.
Despite my efforts, I heard the son finally yell in frustration, “How do you not have a key to your own house?!
And the lawyer responded with, “YOU DON’T KNOW HOW WE LIVE!”
It was then that I decided she was perhaps certifiable and/or brilliant. Think about it. What situation can a righteously offended facial expression and the phrase “You don’t know how we live!’ not resolve? Other people can’t know exactly how you live, not even if they live with you. There just isn’t a great comeback to it and even if you come off as ridiculous as she did, you can tell yourself that you still “won” the argument.
So, there you have my top three conversational gems. Try to use them wisely… What communication tools/tactics/comebacks do you find indispensable? Tell me in the comments!