“You may be right” is a simple phrase that is not easy to say. Yet, it is one of the keys to successful communications.
Why is it such a successful tool?
As human beings, we like outside validation. “You may be right” means that the person with whom we are speaking is validating our perspective.
In order for us to be open to differences and change, we need to feel understood. “You may be right” means the person with whom we are speaking has considered our perspective and understands what we are saying.
When we feel understood, we are less defensive and more open to what we are being told. “You may be right” lowers our defenses and invites us to consider that the person with whom we are talking could also have a valid point.
Since last year, I have been giving talks to major corporations, nonprofits and trade organizations about our differences and the importance of understanding each other. In my talks—and in my books—I help people understand our biological response to change and why we gravitate to people who are like us.
I won’t get into why, because it will take us too far off course. What is important to know is this: when we understand another person, we can relate to them. When we relate to them, our defenses go down, because it means the person is not so different from us after all.
Every photo I choose for my blog posts relates to the topic covered in the post—sometimes the meaning is obvious to everyone and sometimes it is only obvious to me. This two-directions sign is posted in Death Valley National Park.
There are always two directions we can go in when communicating with others. The first is the route of listening to the other person and understanding them. The second route is talking at the other person and telling them the way it is, according to us.
One route leads to Death Valley, the other is the road out. You can guess which is which, but I will give you a hint: Intolerance met by intolerance only leads to more intolerance.
Joanna Dodd Massey, Ph.D., MBA is an author, corporate speaker and communications consultant to companies, Boards and executive teams. She has worked for more than 20 years as a C-level communications executive and Board Director managing brand reputation, corporate turnaround, crisis communications, culture transformation, and multi-million-dollar P&Ls. As a Doctor of Psychology, she advises companies and executive teams on all matters relating to communications and change management. Dr. Massey is also a corporate speaker and trainer, as well as author of the books, Communicating During a Crisis: Influencing Others When the Stakes Are High and Culture Shock: Surviving Five Generations in One Workplace. In addition, Dr. Massey is an adjunct professor at Columbia University, where she teaches a masters-level course in corporate communications.