January 12, 2017

“It Sounds Like You Have an Opinion About That”

Have you ever had a moment where you proudly tell a friend, colleague or family member about a decision you have made: to spend your vacation in the Balkans/apply for a promotion/get a new tattoo only to have them say,

“Oh no! You’re not going to do that are you?”

In moments like these it can be hard not to react: overtly—by arguing with them—or covertly– by saying nothing but feeling shattered inside.

What magic phrase may I offer you instead?

“Wow—it sounds like you have an opinion about that.”

Why is this phrase magical?

First, it gives you time to recover without committing you to a specific emotional response.

Second, it reminds the person who made the remark that what they have said is only their opinion: it is not a fact simply because they said it.

More importantly, it reminds you of the same thing.

In the dream scenario, this reminder will allow you to take a deep breath and decide how you want to respond—rather than react.

If this is someone whose opinion you value (or are obligated to factor in) this might be the time to say something along the lines of,

“Can you tell me more about why you think this is a bad idea?”

Hearing their thoughts in greater detail—with your emotions in check—may provide you with information that is valuable to your decision-making.

Or, it might give you the information you need to counter their opinion with grace and substance: a winning combination. 

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