Common Mistakes with Labels

I annoyed a family member by talking too much about personal finance and offering unsolicited advice to them. They had their guard up and didn’t want to talk about it.

When I learned about Never Split the Difference, I used a label that went something like:

“It sounds like you don’t think there’s anything you could improve when it comes to your finances.”

and waited in silence for them to think and respond.

Their guard came down and we had a fruitful conversation about how they were just burnt out because they had tried approaches that didn’t work for them.

Prior to that conversation, I didn’t know that was the issue. I wasn’t demonstrating empathy through effective listening. I wasn’t using labels.

Yesterday, we covered what a label is. Today we’re going to talk about common pitfalls you may run into when you start using labels.

Qualifying a label. “It seems like you’re upset, but it’s still a good deal.” doesn’t quite work.

It’s like someone telling you “I’m not going to sell you anything.” when you know they are.

Not leaving at least 2-3 seconds of silence. If you can see them thinking, stay silent. Let them think, and respond.

Using run-on sentences. Long and complex sentences can sometimes be too hard to understand and require restating.

Using the incorrect tone. We’ll talk more about tone as we go.

When using a label, make sure not to qualify it, and leave a moment of silence afterwards.

We’ll continue this conversation tomorrow.


P.S. Some of you might recognize this from a couple months ago. That’s intentional. Some things bear repeating.

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