How To Communicate With A Stubborn Person
You know that old saying “it takes one to know one?”
Well, the reason I am good at navigating communication with stubborn people is that I’m a stubborn person!
I’ve had to grow and learn and change my communication style in order to live and relate amicably with other people like me!
That growth has also softened my stubbornness a little bit.
…just ask anyone other than my husband and they’ll agree 😉
There are many tactics you can use to get along with or get around stubborn people.
While getting around them may seem like the easier road, it’s not.
Learning to get along with them will benefit you in many more ways because guess what?
You’re never going to be rid of stubborn people.
Our YouTube channel has an entire video devoted to this topic– so check that out as well.
The most challenging part about communicating with stubborn people is they have a predisposition of not being great at listening.
That’s why you have to warm up your pitching arm and get ready to throw some curveballs.
Usually, stubborn people are all caught up in their own heads with their own ideas.
That means when you approach this person with the hopes of having an equal discussion, influencing them in some way, or getting authorization for something they have to approve seems like an unwinnable battle.
I’ve literally had clients ask me, “Why even bother to ask him/her anyway?”
That’s because those clients realized their stubborn boss/spouse/family member/co-worker doesn’t care about their priorities or interests.
There’s your first clue on how to communicate with them.
If they are not interested in your interests, they must only be interested in theirs.
That means to get their attention; you need to find a way to make it about them.
There are a couple of words that are not useful in communicating for their attention.
Those words are “I” and “You.”
When you start a sentence with the word “I,” it’s already about you.
When you start a sentence with the word “you,” it usually puts the other person on the defensive.
Here are some examples of using the word “I”:
- “I was thinking about something we may want to do during the next fiscal quarter…”
- “I’d really like to add in some professional development activities for the upcoming year.”
- I think __________ (fill in the blank with just about anything).
None of those are effective because you did not start with the stubborn person’s favorite person: him/herself.
With that thought, you’d think it would make the most sense to adopt the polar opposite as your tactic.
Because there are so many instances in our lives when the word “you” is followed by something unpleasant or a command we must follow, most people have a natural reaction to hop into the subconscious posture of defensiveness when a sentence is delivered beginning with “you.”
Examples of the previous “I” sentences re-written as “you”:
- “You ought to consider doing something else next quarter…”
- “You should approve some professional development funding for me in the next budget.”
- “You know, I was wanting to ___________________________________.”
That last one is especially unadvised because not only does it start with a defense inspiring “you” but then it quickly switches to a “not their favorite person” reference of “I”
There is a way around this, however, and it’s as simple as using different words.
Looking at it from a different point of view – consider what’s in it for the other guy.
That’s how you’ll breakthrough.
- “This quarter’s results were interesting; next quarter what do you think about adding… “
- “…wondering what kind of plans we can make for professional development opportunities?”
- “…an interesting thought for you…”
The first one can be taken as a compliment; that’s a great way to start – and you actually didn’t compliment anything.
You used an adjective that’s very much open to individual interpretation.
The reason that works is because stubborn people are stubborn because they’re wrapped up in their own ego; egotistical people like to be admired and complimented.
Because they’re naturally going to hear positive things about themselves, “interesting” would be taken positively in most cases.
Also in the first example you’re reframing your suggestion to change directions by using the word “adding” – you’re not directly suggesting a change which would be considered a sign of approval by the stubborn egotist.
Moving onto the second bullet – it’s not actually a sentence.
The sentence starts with an implied “I” – and because it’s positioned as a question the stubborn egotist is having his/her opinion solicited and therefore is interested.
Obviously you’ve asked them because they are right. (haha)
The last bullet point, which is the “enter anything you want to say/ask in the blank” statement, is rephrased as a gift… “Hey… this is for you!”
You’ve made your statements/dreams/desires/thoughts all about the other person… but not.
There are many more thoughts and ideas about ways you can more easily navigate communication with stubborn people in this video on our YouTube channel. Check it out!
Navigating positive and effective communication is one of many ways we help & guide our clients.
If you’re ready to break through and play big – overcome the things that are holding you back – it’s time to schedule a complimentary session here.