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Don’t let your chimp do the talking

I’ve just finished Dr Steve Peters’ fascinating Chimp Paradox. He’s the psychiatrist who’s worked with the British cycling team and who’s helped the likes of Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy with their mental strength. I’d highly recommend it.

There’s one section which I found particularly interesting – to do with the power and subtlety of language, and how to use it to communicate effectively and persuasively. He illustrates the difference between being aggressive and assertive and suggests a framework for assertive communication. The example he uses is a boss who is shouting at an employee because they’re late for a meeting. Shouting back is not an option (aggressive, chimp behaviour) so the employee instead should respond firmly but calmly, with a clear indication of what they want to happen, using the words ‘I’ and ‘want’, ie ‘I want you to stop shouting at me’. Steve contrasts this with ‘Please stop shouting at me’, – a request which communicates weakness rather than strength.

So, a world of difference between ‘Please’ and ‘I want you to’ – illustrating the wonderful subtleties of our language and the glorious power of words.

Take a look at the book – www.chimpparadox.co.uk