• What magic word or phrase could someone use to get whatever they want...
• Whether it be to win an argument with your spouse,
• impress the boss
• or even create a following of people who hang onto your every word,
• everyone wants to have the upper hand.
And if you had it tucked deep down in your back pocket to whip out and use whenever the need arises, you do it and you’d do it in a heartbeat.
So here it is. Ready?
That’s it? Could I be serious with this?
Yes, dead serious.
The words that you choose to speak determine the level of power you hold.
So let’s dig into this a little bit and see why “I understand” is so powerful.
• It is our innate desire to be understood.
• To feel that our needs are recognized and appreciated.
• We want others to see things from our perspective regardless if that other person has any relevant experience to see things how we see them.
How many times have you been in an argument with your significant other about something and they JUST DON’T GET IT! You are frustrated as hell that they can’t wrap their head around what you are trying to say. No matter how hard you try to explain and how much “logic” you throw at them, it still doesn’t sink in. Nothing is more frustrating than be told you're wrong after exhausting every ounce of self-control that you can muster while still being able to form a complete sentence and not explode. What do you really want here? Do you want them to agree with you or do you really want them to “understand”. Had they said, “Honey, I understand. I don’t necessarily agree but I do understand why you feel that way”, would you continue to beat your point into their skull or would you stop and accept their answer?
I’m willing to bet that you’d stop and appreciate that at least you got that much and you’d feel a whole lot better. Now turn that around and see where YOU can “control” the anger and frustration directed at you in a moment where your partner JUST WANTS TO BE HEARD.
See what we did there? Sure go ahead and walk upstairs and under your breath say “your stupid and your feelings are stupid”, but your partner is now sitting downstairs thinking, “wow he/she gets it and that makes me feel better.”
Power, my friends.
Now let’s look at a disgruntled customer who comes into your place of work and is throwing a righteous temper tantrum. Your coworker is trying to explain why the price went up from last week and the customers is just not having any of it. She is pissed off! For everything she says, your co-worker has an explanation and it makes total sense to you guys, but obviously not to her. This customer is not really there to understand you now is she? She just had a bad fight with her sister and you are getting the brunt of it. So what do you say? “I understand... (miss crazy lady)”. I understand is basically expressing empathy. Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. As she is yelling at the top of her lungs about how you purposely raised the price just to “f” with her, you respond with “I understand” nothing more and nothing less. Watch as her demeanor changes and the look on her face contorts. She won’t know what to say or how to respond to that. She can’t keep yelling at you can she? You UNDERSTOOD her. Whatever she says after that point will only make her look more crazy if that didn’t calm her right down.
See what we’ve done here?
By using I understand, you have disarmed your opponent and taken all their fears and anger and put a cold wet blanket on it.
That’s really all they wanted and here you went and did just that...
So go ahead, give it a shot and see if I’m wrong.
And if you come back and tell me how stupid I am and how my article is bullshit, I’ll understand.