Get Your Point Across Without Annoying Anyone

I love passionate people who are tuned in to the world and what’s important to them.  Whether it is a lively discussion about politics or swapping ideas about a hobby or sports team, it is important to be able to connect with others over what matters to you.

Sometimes we need a little help getting our partner or friend “on board.”  While it is tempting to want them to see or do things exactly as we do, the wrong tactics can stress the relationship and diminish your ability to at least be understood.

Here are some ideas about what to do — and what not to do — to get your point across.

  1. Be Part Of The Crowd First.  In order for someone to be interested in what you have to say, especially if it differs from their point of view, they need to see you as a peer and not a fanatic.  It is easy for people to tune out the beliefs of others when they can label them as being part of the “others.”  Find common interests that you can establish before trying to discuss something more contentious.  Even better, find a common part of the issue that you can agree on. For example, polls show that while people disagree about global warming, nearly everybody feels positively about the idea of energy efficiency.
  2. Take Small Steps And Use Mild Language. Whether you’re trying to get your partner on board with your vacation plan or speaking to a group on behalf of a cause, it is important to take small steps and use gentle phrases.
  3. Never Guilt Trip.  True, you cannot control someone else’s feelings, and guilt is a feeling that each of us must own without accusing another of causing it.  But you diminish your message when you purposely use guilt-inducing tactics.  Research shows, for example, that people respond more to positive messages.  Recently an ad campaign targeted overweight parents by showing kids bragging about how much their parents could eat.  The facts tell us that people are more motivated to change their habits (or their opinions) when we use positive goals (“eat more fruits and vegetables”) instead of shame.