25. Jun, 2019

Attitudes are more important than facts!

Last weeks BLOG introduced our process of effective communication with others especially when important decisions must be made: Relate, Discover, Advocate and Support.

Whilst accommodating someone's Primary Personality remains uppermost for maintaining positive relationships, DISCOVERING & AGREEING problems is the essential next step before Advocating solutions. Yet, too many people reverse these steps and then wonders why the other person vehemently disagrees. Read on ...

The 19th century American philosopher William James said, "Attitudes are more important than facts". And he is so right!

Have you ever watched a presentation that was essentially based on facts and figures only to remain 'unpersuaded'? Or, offered someone the facts of the matter ~ as you see them ~ that they refused to accept? 

For example, elections, strikes and conflicts are not fought on the hard-facts, the things that can be measured (the Needs) but on the different attitudes and beliefs of the people involved; on opposing points of view (the Wants).

And, there's a massive difference between a NEED and a WANT, and that difference is ~ THE WHY!  

Look at it this way, NEEDS focus on hard-facts; the what of things that can be measured. The facts and figures. The shortfall or gaps in someones planning or performance. Hard-facts identify inadequacy, and most people don't need to be told they don't measure up.

WANTS, on the other hand, focus on soft-facts; the why reasons that evoke the emotion around 'things'; around the causes, events and people they care about. Soft-facts identify feelings, they identify belonging, they identify love, and most people want to feel they are doing what's right for something are someone that matters.

Hard Fact ~ questions are typically found in a questionnaire: ‘What’s your name?’ 'What's your gender?' ‘'What's your height and weight?' How old are you?’ ‘Where do you live?’ ‘How much do you earn?’ 'What's your political affiliation?' 

Hard-facts have nothing to do with attitudes or beliefs and therefore little to do with the decision-making process

Soft Facts ~ on the other hand seek someone’s emotions: “How are you today?”; “Tell me about your work / hobbies / friends / family”; “What is your attitude towards ... ?”.

Soft-facts discover attitudes. They discover beliefs. They discover feelings. All of which can be vague and flexible and changeable.

Obviously, to discover and solve any problem, hard and soft facts are necessary. But have you noticed how great listeners focus almost exclusively on soft-facts? 

Think of the very best TV hosts, political interviewers, trainers, teachers and coaches and you'll get the drift. Those who seamlessly give the other person the opportunity to discover what is really important to them. And, they never worry about asking for hard-facts, because they are usually volunteered right along with the soft-fact answers.

To assist someone discover what is important to them ~ what they really want ~ is rarely achieved by highlighting their problems, but by asking questions that allow them to discover their own problems for themselves. And, as they discover where they are in the scheme of things right now, they will verbalise where they want to be, maybe for the first time ~ and, so too the listener comprehends. 

Remember this mantra “I promise never to offer any solution to anyone’s problem until we have jointly discovered AND agreed that a problem exists AND that s/he cares enough to want to do something about it”  

To discover more, email john@uetp.co.uk

Complicated Is Easy! Simple Is Hard!

Recommended Reading

  • The Broad Concept Approach by Harold Zlotnik
  • Talk Language by Allan Pease & Alan Garner
  • Standing For Something by Gordon B. Hinckley
  • Start With The Why by Simon Sinek