Although our clients are eager to learn the Black Swan skills and put them to use in business negotiations, many don’t think about how they can also be extremely helpful in personal communications.
In this post, we examine how using Accusation Audits® in your personal relationships can help you address the negatives your friends and family members have about the situation, making it much easier to have productive conversations.
How Accusation Audits® Improve Personal Relationships
We teach clients to use Accusation Audits (AAs®) when their counterparts are likely harboring negative sentiments.
To this end, you should be using Accusation Audits anytime you deliver bad news, need forgiveness, or make an ask. By kicking off a difficult conversation with an Accusation Audit, you address the negative feelings you’re about to bring up.
In personal settings, Accusation Audits come across as somewhat self-deprecating moves that ingratiate people toward you.
For example, imagine you forgot one of your close friend’s birthday—and that close friend is the type of person who never forgets anyone’s birthday. You might be the most caring and committed person in the world, but none of us operate at 100 percent all the time; mistakes are part of being human. Once you realize you forgot to say happy birthday, you might call them up and start the conversation like this: I’m such a terrible person. You will probably wonder why you’re even friends with me in the first place. I am the worst friend ever.
By addressing your error up front, you own it. Although you might not get 100 percent forgiveness out of the gate, you have a better chance of a more favorable response whenever you use an AA to kick off a difficult conversation.
One Caveat: Don’t Overdo It
Although Accusation Audits can help you have more productive conversations in your personal life, be careful not to overdo it.
If you jam tons of negative things into your audit and lay it on thick, it’ll be overkill, and you might come across as sarcastic rather than sincere. For example, let’s say your spouse calls you up at the office and asks you to stop and get a gallon of milk on your way home. You only remember the request once you pull up in front of your house. In this scenario, you might say something like this: Oh my god. You’re going to think I’m the biggest idiot, that I never listen, that I always forget, and that I’m the worst partner ever. Generally, when you beat yourself up, your counterpart will be more inclined to forgive you. But if you go too far, they might not take you seriously.
In a business setting, you should start conversations with AAs to defuse the negatives out of the gate. But in a personal setting, you may want to only use a few AAs up front, sprinkle additional ones throughout the conversation, and wrap it up with one or two more. I call these “after action audits!” While this sandwiching of audits can work really well in a personal relationship, they may be a bit much in a formal, professional setting.
Why You Should Use AAs in Your Personal Relationships
Some clients are wary of using Black Swan skills in their personal relationships because they feel their counterparts will know they’re up to something. Because people know you better in your personal life, it’s not uncommon to be more nervous using the skills.
That awkwardness and suspicion is only in your mind. The 20 million bits of information our unconscious brains pick up every second may be telling them something is different. They aren’t noticing what you’re doing-they’re noticing how uncomfortable you appear to be.
By practicing AAs in your personal relationships, you can set expectations with the people who matter most to you as you head into difficult conversations. The more experience you get, the easier it will be to use the skills in a professional setting.
Get Comfortable with AAs Before the Stakes Are Highest
Most of the time, when you use Black Swan skills, people in your personal life will notice you’re communicating differently because they know you better.
Once you’re comfortable using the skills with people who know you, using them with business counterparts will be a breeze.
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