This is the third in a series about getting someone to listen to you, even if they have a bias that blocks your efforts at communication. This is a critically important subject in terms of getting a job, getting promoted, or in selling to people you have never met before.
I am going to cut to the chase and only list the factors that MUST be in place for meaningful communication to take place. They are basic, absolutely essential, but are not easily accomplished.
1. You must have the intention that you are going to get into good communication with this person regardless of any bias that this person exhibits toward you.
2. You must be able to confront the person in a relaxed manner and experience whatever he or she is doing without feeling or being upset. Easier said than done, but it is accomplished by many with some training.
3. You must find a topic on which you have some level of agreement in order to start the conversation. It may not be the topic you wish to discuss, but communication can only occur if there is some degree of agreement between the parties involved.
4. When you have said something and the other person has answered, you need to let that person know you understood the answer. This acknowledgement can be as simple as a nod or a few words. The purpose is to let the person know the answer was received and understood. It is not necessarily agreement with the answer.
5. You must understand that a conversation is two-way. That means that the other person must also be allowed to originate communication and you must respond appropriately if the conversation is to succeed. If a person is not allowed to originate ideas in a conversation, he will tune you out and you have lost the opportunity to make any headway with this person.
6. If you begin the conversation on a topic agreeable to both parties and you pursue this conversation until you have increased the affinity and the agreement between yourself and this other person, you may then broaden the conversation to matters closer to those which you wish to discuss.
You must recognize when the other person no longer wishes to continue and smoothly end off. If you do this, you increase your chances of starting the conversation again at some future time.
This discussion may have to take place over a period of days or weeks. Each time the discussion must begin with topics that are mutually acceptable and do not provoke upset.
If this is all Greek to you, do not read further, because this is
merely the first step in establishing a beachhead which you can exploit
to further your cause.
7. If you have handled all of the above points and you persevere, somewhere along the line this person will start looking at you as a real person rather than a bad memory out of their childhood. Once you establish a real connection, this person will probably never look at you at one of "them" again. You may not be considered a real citizen yet, but you will be able to talk sense to them and do business with them.
If you have someone who you cannot talk to, see which of these seven points are out and figure out a way to get them in. It will take some work, but the results will amaze you.
(This post was updated 5/7/05, to make it more readable by taking out some unnecessary words.)