What You Say When You Want To Make A Point Cautiously
by Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
Why in the world would you ever want to make a point cautiously?
Benjamin Franklin explained why in his Autobiography, Just in case you haven’t read that classic, or you’ve forgotten his point, here’s the answer. You just might be wrong. And if you are, the other party could make a fool out of you.
In order to keep that from happening–even if you’re pretty confident you’re right–you might use a technique that Rachel Maddow used on her MSNBC show the other evening. It’s a verbal technique that you can use, not just for an interview, but also if/when you negotiate. In fact, Abraham Lincoln used a version of this technique repeatedly in the courtroom.
Rachel Maddow was doing an interview with Stephanie Cutter, who is Deputy Campaign Manager for the Obama campaign.They were discussing a speech that the President had just made.There’s no reason to get into the substance of the interview itself, What’s worth looking at is how Maddow made her point.
Here is the technique–what Maddow said: “Let me ask about one strategic issue that I think I saw in the speech…but I’m not sure I’m seeing it right…”.
Maddow then stated what she thought she saw and heard, then asked Cutter for confirmation. (Lincoln in the courtroom would set up the statement similarly, then would say, “Did I get that right?”)
If you use this approach, perhaps in a negotiation, you might say, “Am I hearing this right? Is this what you’re saying?” or “Is this what you’re offering?”
If the other person demurs, you can then ask “What did I get wrong?”
We like this interviewing/negotiating and debating whether technique because it’s subtle and courteous, yet powerful.
“This is a book to cherish and share.”—Bill Marriott, CEO, Marriott International, Inc.
“Not only does Griessman give us Lincoln quotes, but he also weaves each one into a little jewel of an essay on that particular subject.” Wayne C. Temple, renowned Lincoln scholar, Illinois State Archives
A stirring, inspirational treasury of quotations from our greatest and most admired president, the book offers rich material for interpretation, reflection, and spiritual guidance.
You will also enjoy Lincoln Speaks To Leaders by Gene Griessman and Pat Williams.
Don’t leave yet. You’ve found a goldmine. Check out additional power phrases and unusual quotations.