If we are to expect someone to be influenced by us, we have to shift them out of the defensive part of their mind, the part that responds when they are threatened, and keep them in the logical portion of their mind.
When someone feels threatened, their brain shifts.
There are two main operating systems in the brain:
- The logical side
- The survival side
The survival side, is what they call the fight or flight side. That portion of the brain’s purpose is to make quick decisions when the life is threatened. These are decisions that must be made quickly and where there is not time to make “logical”, well thought out choices. I.E. in the primitive days, if a bear jumped out in your path, you didn’t have time to develop a well thought out response. You simple made a decision, either fight this thing, or run for your life.
It is when someone feels threatened, their brain switches to this part of the brain. The main objective then is to either, fight their way out to survive, or run from the situation at hand. Notice neither one of those solutions involve logical, reasoned out decisions. That is why when someone feels that their life, their pride, their reputation, their money or their well being is being threatened, they will say or do things that are not logical. Which is why I say, if we want to have a “logical and reasonable” dialog with someone, one of the main objectives is for them not to feel threatened by us.
There are 3 aspects of our behavior that will affect their response:
The level of our voice.
Many don’t mean to intimidate people but we do when we raise our voice. It immediately puts the other person on alert that they are being attacked and therefore must “defend” themselves.
Our posture toward them.
We all have a neutral zone around us. When someone gets beyond that and into “our space” there is an uncomfortable level of anxiety that makes us feel threatened and therefore that we must “defend” ourselves.
The words we use.
I have a close friend who is master at communicating with others when he disagrees with someone. Rather than accuse someone of something he will form questions in a non threatening way that will cause the person (many times me) to see their error themselves. In the same situation had he accused the person, they would have moved to a more defensive mode and retaliated.
I have heard many say “hey I can’t control them, they’re crazy!”. Can we control every conversation or encounter we have with others? Absolutely not. But there are many we can, just by using the right tone, the right posture and the right words.