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Creating Successful Leaders

By Margaret Smith, Speaker, Career Coach, and Certified Insights Discovery Practitioner

Have you ever proposed something to someone, or asked another person (at work or otherwise) to do something, and been shocked when you’re met with a determined “no”? Perhaps nothing can be more frustrating than this situation, because despite your being reasonable and nice, your request is met with a stubborn refusal.

If you’re a parent like me, you have probably already had your fair share of yes-no-yes-no battles. But, have you ever faced this perplexing situation at work?

I read an interesting article recently by Dr. Rick Krischner, which speaks about this very issue and offers a new approach to dealing with people in opposition using the Polarity Pattern.

As Krischner explains, there are two ways to use the Polarity Pattern to achieve your desired outcome (which is getting someone else to do something).

The first way to use the Polarity Pattern is to anticipate the other person’s reaction to your request or proposal, and bring up the negatives before they do. “If you can anticipate that they are going to attack your idea and point out its flaws anyway, might as well invite them to do it so that they are on your side!” explains Krischner.

The second way to apply the Polarity Pattern is to openly agree with the hopelessness of the situation (as the other person expresses it). This brings to light the unreasonableness or extremeness of the other person’s perspective.

Krishchner uses a story to illustrate this second use of the Polarity Pattern:

“…A CEO was complaining to his assistant how the employees in his company were inefficient, incompetent, and utterly incapable of doing a single thing right. His assistant, with a look of utmost earnestness on his face, suggested, ‘You’re right. Let’s take them all outside, shoot them, and burn this building down!’ The CEO laughed at this idea then admitted, ‘Alright, it isn’t so bad!’”

The key to mastering this technique is the understanding that the only way a negative person can stay negative when someone is agreeing with them is for them to go positive.

Do you have a personal technique for dealing with a stubborn person? Share your best practices and stories below!


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