Bruce Dunning is a negotiation expert and business coach. I marvel every time I work with him, because he can develop a personal relationship with everyone he talks with faster than anyone I’ve ever met.
Even at times when it appears several obstacles are blocking any possible, successful outcome, Bruce has the ability to make each one disappear. It’s as if he’s employing an invisible magic wand.
Of course, Bruce doesn’t have a magic wand. I’ve worked with him for almost three years now. During that time, he’s taught me some things about obliterating seemingly impenetrable barriers when working with other people. Here are four things I’ve learned from him:
First, when you meet other people, assume they have good intentions.
“When you begin to accept good intentions, even when you don’t agree with another person’s view of the world, a path is opened,” Bruce said. “Just because someone doesn’t see things the way you and I do, doesn’t mean their evil!”
He once said to me as he made a funny face and contorted his fingers to drive his point home, “Most people really do have good and caring in their heart.”
Second, it’s important to genuinely care for each person you’re communicating with.
“Other people can tell if you care about their welfare and not just your own.” he said. When others feel as if you’re there to get an understanding of them and their point of view, without any other motive, they’ll begin to open up. “If you want to make progress, simply stop trying to convince others.”
Third, use questions as the core of your conversation. “How would you rephrase your statement as a question?” Bruce said. Do you see how he’s using a question himself? Now my mind is like a merry-go-round! How can I rephrase that as a question? I constantly ask internally, hoping to have the questioning-skill become my natural way of communicating. Have you ever tried to connect with others using this method?
Fourth, be open to learning. Life is filled with surprise and my follies are unceasingly revealed as circumstances expose how incorrect my assumptions are and have been. Perhaps recognizing this is a sign of how the questioning skill is teaching and changing me from the inside out.
Could developing a questioning skill be the key to over coming the obstacles you and I face in our lives? Does change in the world happen from inside out? Will you and I use questions to become more effective than ever before in our communication with others?
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.