Have you ever had a situation where someone was committed that they weren’t going to move on something. No matter how many alternatives you suggested? It might be at work or it might be at home.
Him: We never go out anymore
You: Why don’t we go out tonight?
Him: Where were you thinking?
You: How about the cinema?
Him: Not really anything I want to see
You: Quiet drink at the pub?
Him: It’s a bit cold
You: How about a 2 for 1 meal?
Him: I’ve got to be up early in the morning
You: Fine! We won’t go anywhere then!
This is called the “Yes, But” Game. It goes nowhere and is a psychological game we all play. Unfortunately most of us get into this game when we are trying to influence or convince someone of something.
Why is this important?
This is one of the most common traps in a conversation that we can all find ourselves in without realising it.
I posted this on LinkedIn and many of the responses that came back focused around open and closed questioning techniques.
These work fine – to a point.
The reason is this – the example conversation has nothing to do with wanting to go out. It is started by the man who wants to reinforce his belief that they never go out.
If you fall into the trap of playing his “game” you will ultimately lose because the game you started cannot be won playing by his rules – in other words if you offer solution after solution you will eventually get exhausted of his excuses.
The first step to get out of the loop is to have awareness that you are suddenly playing the game.
Next immediately stop playing the game.
Agree with their initial comment. It is very difficult to disagree with someone who is agreeing with you
You now have two choices:
a) Redirect the conversation by asking them how to solve the problem – this must be done elegantly so it is not noticed by the other individual
b) Acknowledge their belief and then physically leave or change the conversation completely
For examples of where this example of negotiating has worked in corporate environments have a look here: