When two parties are talking (in the context of a business negotiation, a discussion between a couple, or what have you), a paradoxical relationship exists between the effort put into understanding the other party, and the likeliness that the one will be understood.
It’s a painful thing to witness. One person earnestly tries to clarify a point or issue as their frustration grows, and the other party responds in the same way, briefly addressing (or subtly undermining) the point made by the first person but doubling their efforts to clarify their point.
Frustration turns into anger, an impasse is reached, and the conversation goes nowhere.
I refer back to it often, but How to Win Friends and Influence People is probably the best text I’ve read on the topic of interpersonal communication and conflict resolution.
There’s an art to saying things without saying them, and no book has more positively impacted my ability to do so than this one. It’s counterintuitive to focus on what someone else is trying to say in order to be understood better, but it’s the only way to communicate effectively.
Am I understood? 🙂