How to talk to an adult with strong views.
Allow them to explain their logic. Although you may not agree with their point of view, allow them to explain the reasons why they are devoted to their beliefs. It will ease the tension of the conversation by permitting them to justify why they believe their unconventional theory.
Listen. Take the time to really listen to what they are saying. Ask questions. Sometimes when adults are passionate about something, it is because it touched a nerve in them. This may have little to do with the situation at hand. There is generally something driving their need to voice their view so strongly. Once you figure out the root cause, you can help them understand what they are feeling and why. Also, it is important to consider that what this adult may be passionately conveying could be what others are thinking but are not bold enough to voice it.
Don’t try to impose your views on them. The same way you would hate for someone to try to force you to believe something, don’t try to force them to think the way you do. Respect their views and don’t insult them believing in them, no matter how ridiculous their ideas may seem to you.
Build trust. Of course, we love those adults who unquestioning just do what we ask of them. They make our life easy. But those adults who challenge us help us to see things from a different perspective. They show us where there is resistance. When we listen and respond to their concerns this helps us build trust. Once we establish a foundation of trust, this breaks down their blocks and opens the door for us to begin coaching them. Trust building begins with gentle coaching, letting adults know you are on their side while steering them in different directions. The most valuable thing we give our adults is our time. Spend time and invest yourself in the process.
Empathise. This doesn’t mean you need to agree with what the adult says, thinks or feels but if you take the time to understand their point of view it will help you know how to best coach them through it. Sometimes situations aren’t ideal, so we need to help them understand how to move through them and let them know that complaining isn’t an option. Saying things like, “tell me more about that so I can better understand your point” is an excellent way to get into their minds.
Ask them to remain calm. If their voices begin to rise, let them know there’s no need for the conversation to get heated. It’s a friendly debate and it shouldn’t escalate to something more serious. Asking them to calm down will bring the conversation back to centre and if they can’t talk without being belligerent, change the subject.
Choose your battles. Sometimes you’re just going to have to let some discussions go. It is essential to know which topics to address and which to ignore.
Involve them in the solution. This is again giving them a voice and allowing them to come up with a solution to the situation at hand. “You have good ideas but sometimes the way they are presented puts others on edge. How can you work to improve the delivery?” Allowing them to come up with a solution allows for buy in and makes the solution something that they feel committed to. When they are venting, ask them what they think makes sense and if it makes sense, put them in charge of the project.
But remember – BE KIND