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Inevitably in a meeting you hear statements that you disagree with.  

Some of you may have the impulse to attack the speaker.  

Some of you may have the impulse to attack the message.  

And some of you may have the impulse to simply withdraw.

While all these impulses are legitimate, by following a simple process, ABC – Align, Bridge, Categorize – you will not only master your emotions, you will also add tremendous value to the meeting and influence critical decisions.

How do you implement the ABC approach?

Step 1 – Align

To align with the speaker, you have to recognize the speaker’s perspective and then demonstrate your understanding of this perspective. By showing both recognition and understanding you eliminate the risk of being perceived as superficial and/or condescending.
Statement – “We can’t pursue that strategy.  We’re stretched too thin already.”
Alignment/Recognition of perspective – “I share your concern that the organization is handling more projects than ever before.”
Alignment/Demonstration of understanding – “We’ve restructured the organization, added new products, and introduced new tracking systems.  Our people are definitely stretched.”

Step 2 – Bridge

To bridge, you have to create a transition from the speaker’s perspective to your perspective. By making your transition obvious and logical, you make it easy for your audience to keep on track with your thinking – following your line of argument.
Bridge – “However, I believe this project will add very little burden to the organization.”

Step 3 – Categorize

To categorize, you establish an oral bullet point structure before giving the answer.  By using this
organization structure, you assure that you will develop each of your points clearly and distinctly. You thereby establish breadth of thinking which demonstrates your depth of understanding and clarity of analysis.
Categorize – “One of the reasons the impact on the organization will be minimal is that only a few people need to be involved.  Another one of the reasons is..”

By implementing this process – ABC – you will have greater mastery of yourself and even greater influence over collective outcomes.

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