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David Windle

Opposite Leg Ltd


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Communication Skills Matter Most When in Disagreement


Over the weekend I was reading the array of articles printed about David Cameron's veto of the Eurozone treaty, and it struck me how many of them refered to his failure to build trusting and successful relationships with the key players: Sarkozy and Merkel.

This communication failure meant that, no matter how reasonable his requests were for changes to the proposed treaty, his fellow European heads of state were in no mood to accommodate them.

Essentially, communication and relationships matter most in times of disagreement.

It’s easy to feel like a successful communicator when you are in discussion or negotiation with someone with whom you broadly agree.  However, it’s when things get a bit sticky that the quality of your communication really matters and when any communicative weakness runs the risk of exposure.

By communication, I do not mean simply the ease with which you participate in breezy banter or even your skill at making your mark in a debate; I mean the depth of trust you build up between colleagues, the degree of empathy you have for another’s point of view and the ability to find flexibility on the most rigid arguments.

It is these essential communication qualities which form the bedrock of your powers of influence; without trust, empathy and flexibility it is very difficult to establish the relationships needed for success.

When you are in disagreement with someone over a particular issue you will have a far greater chance of turning the discussion towards your favoured outcomes if the person with whom you are negotiating fundamentally likes you, regardless of the argument at hand.

In short, your relationships matter as much, if not more than, your opinion.

On this busy planet, we are constantly called upon to compromise and negotiate; with 6 billion people all chattering away the only possible conclusion we can draw is that none of us can assume that what we think is absolutely, universally correct – the best we can do is communicate with deep understanding and skill shaping the world as effectively as we can to suit our needs.

Have a look at our website for more thoughts, ideas and communication flotsam

2 Responses

  1. When listening becomes even more important.

    Great succint article – thanks!

    I totally agree – in times of disagreement it is easy to get anxious to push our point through and completely neglect how the negotiations will affect our long-term relationship.

    It is also easy to forget to listen – not only to what is being said but also to what is not being said. Once more, in trying to push our ideas through (or even just to present and explain them), we might forget to give the other person(s) room to speak, missing out on valuable information and the opportunity to build the trust to which you refer to.


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David Windle


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