How to Resolve Disputes

In an earlier blog, I discussed the flawed premise that explains why it’s so difficult to persuade others of your point of view.

That doesn’t mean you should give up.  Sometimes, reaching agreement is important in order to salvage a relationship or when an important health issue is involved.  Here are some tips that will help you in those circumstances.

Arguing couple -Photo by Jonathan Sharp on Unsplash

Ditch the pitch

Facts and data don’t cut it.  Ask anyone who’s been in a discussion with a climate change denier.  I’ll bet it didn’t end well.

Abandon all efforts to “prove” you’re right by referencing facts and drawing rational inferences from that data.  If you do this, you’ll find either that the other person will tune out or that they’ll use the data against you, leaving you more polarized.

When I was a wealth advisor, I remember telling one prospect the chance of an actively managed mutual fund beating the returns of a comparable index fund, after taxes, was statistically “close to zero.”

His response was:  Why are you assuming my broker and I won’t be the exception?

A better way

There’s a better way.  It involves an appeal to emotions, not logic.

Assume you’re trying to persuade your spouse of the importance of having adequate life insurance. You could discuss the abstract data about how many people die in the U.S. without life insurance, leaving their loved ones in dire straits.

Alternatively, you could relate the story of Paul, a young man in his 30s, with a wife and two small children. Paul’s business partner convinced him to take out $4 million in life insurance, paid for by their company. Their agreement provided that if either one died the other would inherit his shares in the company and the proceeds of the insurance would go to designated beneficiaries.

One year later, Paul died from a rare brain tumor. His wife and children received the life insurance proceeds, and were able to maintain their quality of life.

I changed the name, but this is a true story.

Which approach do you think is most effective?

The next time you have a conflict that needs to be resolved, ask yourself this question:  How can I frame the issue so it appeals to the heart instead of focusing on the head?