Every single person you meet is Completely Reasonable

When you accept this, you can actually deal with Unreasonable People.

We all seem to run into Unreasonable People, all the time. In fact, it seems like Unreasonable People go out of their way to find us! It becomes difficult and ruins our day.

We can change that. Completely.

Ask yourself – how often do you wake up and decide to be “unreasonable”? Ever? Guess what – no one else does either. That means that every single person you meet is being completely and totally “reasonable” – from their point of view. They are doing what makes sense to them, trying to get what they need, just as you are. The problem is simple – they don’t understand what you need, and you don’t understand what they need. If you both did, it would make sense. More importantly, you’d probably find a solution fairly quickly.

So the real problem is that we only see the world from our point of view, our perspective, our understanding. They are doing the same, and never the twain shall meet. The result of this is frustration, of my Red Brain trying to convince you that you’re wrong, I demand you see the world my way. I push, I argue, I tell, tell, tell. All that does is trigger their Red Brain, and all chance of solving the problem vanishes. We comfort ourselves by labeling the other person as “unreasonable” (and a whole host of other terms not repeatable here).

The fact is they are trying to get their “interests” met, just as you are. Instead of arguing, you need to understand their interests, as well as yours. Then you can look for a solution.

So, change the game. You have a choice. You can change the process and the game by engaging their Blue Brain to focus on interests instead of their Red Brain focusing on fight or flight. Start with this:



Stop Telling.



Here is some BrainFishing advice:

Try a simple way to practice this: On your notepad for your next meeting, write the following block letters in the upper right corner: AQ-SUL. Every few minutes, let your eyes wander over to those letters as a clear reminder. These letters stand for:

Ask a Question – Shut Up and Listen

And every time you read this, check on your behaviour. Are you telling, or are you listening? And what can you do to make sure you are listening while someone else talks? AQ, then SUL.

AQ is the easy part. It’s the SUL that’s hard. Think of it this way: After you ask a question and as they are talking, try to actually learn something from what they are saying:

  • Why does this make sense to them? .. Ah! That’s why!
  • What are they trying to accomplish? .. Okay, that’s clear now!
  • What are they concerned about? .. Really? That’s their concern? Didn’t expect that!

If you can start to learn from the answers to these questions as they are talking, then you are truly listening and not judging. And if their answers aren’t clear, then actually ask those questions – out loud. One of the greatest values of good questions and serious listening is that it helps the other party clarify their own thinking.1

Once you truly understand where they are coming from, you’ll understand why they aren’t simply agreeing with you. But by learning about and understanding their interests, you actually have a chance to solve the problem – to find a solution that works for them, as well as you.

Remember, the starting point is assuming everyone is being reasonable – because they are!

1 BrainFishing, Chapter Two, page 32