It’s easy to feel like a successful communicator when you are in discussion or negotiation with someone with whom you broadly agree. However, it’s when things get a bit sticky that the quality of your communication really matters and when any communicative weakness runs the risk of exposure.
By communication, I do not mean simply the ease with which you participate in breezy banter or even your skill at making your mark in a debate; I mean the depth of trust you build up between colleagues, the degree of empathy you have for another’s point of view and the ability to find flexibility on the most rigid arguments.
It is these essential communication qualities which form the bedrock of your powers of influence; without trust, empathy and flexibility it is very difficult to establish the relationships needed for success.
When you are in disagreement with someone over a particular issue you will have a far greater chance of turning the discussion towards your favoured outcomes if the person with whom you are negotiating fundamentally likes you, regardless of the argument at hand.
In short, your relationships matter as much, if not more than, your opinion.
On this busy planet, we are constantly called upon to compromise and negotiate; with 6 billion people all chattering away the only possible conclusion we can draw is that none of us can assume that what we think is absolutely, universally correct – the best we can do is communicate with deep understanding and skill shaping the world as effectively as we can to suit our needs.