4. Find common ground. Often listening is reduced to hearing only those differing opinions. It is possible to be engaged in a heated discussion and still have something in common. Starting a sentence with “I know we can both agree that we have a passion for caring for animals…” diffuses the situation and leads to finding a logical conclusion. Focusing solely on your differences never advances the situation. Finding common ground may not change an opinion, but it is the first step toward being heard. Furthermore, it can lead to more dialogues and, eventually, problem-solving.
5. State your principles. One way to connect is to state your beliefs or principles. Your principles tell a story. If someone is questioning your commitment or practices ask, “May I share with you my beliefs?” When they say “yes,” continue with stating your case: “I believe that caring for animals is my top priority. Second, I…”
Another example is: “What I hear you asking is, ‘do I care’? I spend every day caring for animals.”
6. Break the rhythm. It’s important to break the rhythm of an adversarial questioner when you realize they are asking increasingly volatile questions. You can do this by beginning your response with “Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.” This diffuses a threatening style and takes the emotional edge off a heated exchange.
7. Bring up the subject of concern. By being proactive, you can control the tone and exhibit the transparency regarding the topic. The fact that you brought it up prior to the questioner diffuses the subject matter. Transparency increases trust.