How many times have you been in a discussion with someone and either heard or said, “Yeah, but….”? That phrase means, “I agree with the point you are making but not enough to accept the whole argument or make the decision you want. Very often when someone says, ‘yeah, but…’ they are agreeing with the facts while disagreeing emotionally. It is in those instances that I say, “Don’t confuse the situation with the facts”. What I mean is, the facts are second in importance to the emotion about the situation. Rather than trying to dissuade someone using facts, work to understand the emotion.
To really understand someone requires knowing the difference between hearing, listening, understanding and feeling heard.
Hearing – The vibration of sound waves against the eardrum. You can hear a car horn.
Listening - The conscious act of paying attention to sound. You can listen to a horn to determine where it is coming from.
Understanding – The interpretation of sound into thought that is congruent with the intent of the sender. You can hear a car horn, realize it is coming from the vehicle behind you and interpret that they want you to notice that the light has turned green.
Feeling heard – When the sender of information believes you understand what they are telling you. When you proceed through the intersection the other driver knows you got the message.
Of course a car horn is a crude example of those four points. However, the idea is the same when someone is speaking to you. When someone (even you) says “Yeah, but…” listen to what comes next. In all likelihood they are giving you emotional reasons they disagree or can’t do what you want. A great example is when someone is caught in an inappropriate relationship. They know all the cultural and societal facts as to why they shouldn’t have done what they did. But the reasons for their choices weren’t based in fact, they were based in emotion. (I don’t think I need to give examples. Listen to any audio of someone after they have been caught in an affair. You will hear emotion, not logic.)
The emotion part of our brain is much stronger then the fact side. All of the facts can line up on one side of a decision and we will often go with the emotional answer instead. So, when someone is ‘yeah, but-ing’ you, stop throwing facts and logic at them and work to understand their emotion. Once you do that you will be able to have a discussion at the root of the decision making process and determine if change is possible. Sometimes all the logic in the world can’t override emotions. Why do you think we talk about making decisions with your head versus your heart?
Dr. Robyn Odegaard is the CEO/Owner of the speaking/consulting company Champion Performance Development, the founder of the Stop The Drama! Campaign and author of the book ‘Stop The Drama! The Ultimate Guide to Female Teams’. She specializes in showing people how to use language powerfully to achieve the most from their potential. You can invite her to give one of her funny, powerful, insightful presentations and inquire about her consulting services at www.ChampPerformance.com and order her book from www.StopTheDramaNow.com