It’s easy to simply make a decree and expect the peaceful, consensus-loving demonstrator to accept your decision, but that won’t lead to healthy long-term outcomes. When your loved one is a demonstrator, you need to make a special effort to hear his point of view and to understand his emotions.
Quick Tips for Assertor-Demonstrator Conversations
- DO ask questions that let the demonstrator express opinions without feeling boxed in.
- DO wait for the demonstrator to express a preference before stating your own.
- DO stay positive, and compliment the demonstrator throughout the conversation.
- DO find a third party to help you focus on details, since the two of you are big-picture people and might miss something.
- DON’T try to force the demonstrator to immediately accept your preferred solution.
Assertors Need a Light Touch to Avoid Pressuring Demonstrators
Sweet, sunny demonstrators hate disappointing people. They seek consensus. In a high-stress situation, they tend to put the other person’s needs and wants ahead of their own. As an assertor communicating with a demonstrator, your challenge is to keep them on task yet give them a safe space to express their own concerns and preferences.
You can help a demonstrator stay focused on the current discussion by asking open-ended questions that let them express their opinions and feelings. For instance, instead of saying “Do you want to eat Thai food or Ethiopian food tonight?” it’s better to phrase the question as, “What sort of food are you in the mood for?” While you may eventually narrow the decision down to the same two choices, demonstrators feel more valued when you leave room for spontaneity.
If you express your own preferences for an outcome at the outset (for instance, “I want you to move into my condo development”), you may never hear the demonstrator’s reasons for his preferences or even learn what his preferences are. Let him explain his position, then suggest an outcome that takes his needs and feelings into account. Stay positive and avoid language that sounds like you’re making an attack. Demonstrators go to great lengths to avoid conflict and prefer situations in which everyone wins.
Finally, since you’re both big-picture thinkers, consider bringing in a more detail-oriented person to help you consider your options, especially for important or life-changing decisions. This will help balance out some of the natural weaknesses of an assertor-demonstrator team.