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How to come up with good responses quickly

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A very common pattern is to have a challenging situation - and several good responses on what one should have said instead afterwards.

Of course having only a few seconds to respond limits the time to be able to find the best - or at least a good response, especially if the challenging situation came by surprise. (And those can unfold in less than 2 seconds and 3-5 words.) The reflection afterwards is already a good thing though, because we grew through it.

With this thread I want to invite you to share ideas and approaches on how get better at these challenging instant responses.

If we are good at them, we automatically are also good at situations where we have plenty of time to respond - like emails and text messages. However the opposite unfortunately isn't really true, so I think it is an important topic to focus on for a bit.

The high level approach - All-in-one response patterns

Humans tend to forget details quickly and like to think in high-level ideas, concepts and generalizations. So the frame control techniques in Power University fit those preferences very well.

As an example, if we look at the philosophers frame, the pattern is something along the lines of:

Them: Made a statement or asked a question.

You:

- broaden the scope of the topic a bit (zoom out of it so to speak)
- disagree with certain parts of their statement that go against your values
- agree with certain parts (first disagreeing and then ending on agreeing with something is better to cushion the disagreement-blow and preserve rapport)

These 3 steps (and having an intuition on when to use them) are basically all one needs to know to respond with this highly effective pattern, no knowledge of specific phrases required. But there are plenty more, like going Meta, which is easy to remember as well.

One should also practice each pattern several times to be familiar with it, as reading unfortunately isn't enough (at least for me).

The low level approach - having a few specific, broadly applicable responses ready for common situations

As we usually aren't good in remembering many specifics and details, this limits the amount of fallback phrases that we can remember long-term - and it takes a bit of effort.
The return on investment is likely the highest if we focus on statements and phrases that:

- are effective,
- are broadly applicable and
- focus on common situations.

We already have a thread on such here, and one example of such a broadly applicable response would be the simple *shaking head* - maybe in combination of some type of disapproving statement.

That already should be good for many value-taking surprise situations. In many cases it wont be the best or most effective response, but it still is a solid fallback in case one has nothing else, and that generally can relieve us of a lot of pressure.

The time extend approach

Another idea is to increase the time-frame in which one can respond.
Filler statements and plain honest statements like "I need a few seconds to think about this" (I think John came up with this idea somewhere, please correct me if I remember it wrong) fit into this category.

To construct a filler statement we can simply combine many general conversation smoother and empty phrases. This can increase the response time a whole lot:

- Well / Huh / Wow

- Interesting that you brought that up

- Let's put it this way

- I see where you are coming from

- the issue or shall we say, the problem

- with this kind of statement are manifold

- in my view

- What I mean by this is that...

Example:

"Well, let's put it this way - I see where you are coming from. The issue, or shall I say the problems, with this kind of statement are manifold in my view. What I mean by this is that [...]"

This increased the initial response time of ~1.5 seconds tenfold.
Of course I wouldn't recommend making this your goto, but for certain situations, where you are kind of blocked, it may bring you back in the talking flow to respond with something meaningful.

Conclusion

I think combining these approaches to have several effective high level frame control techniques ready as well as some broadly applicable goto phrases is particularly effective. And combining this with practice - for example reading case studies on here and trying to come up with a first response in <2 seconds should help getting a lot better at it.

 

Can you think of other strategies and approaches on how to get better at quick response in high pressure situations?

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Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettTransitionedKavalierMMCMaya88Mats GBelleaderoffun

Awesome, awesome post, Anon.

Leaving this answer as a quick note as I think of something and eagerly read if anyone has anything to add (not easy though as it seems you already provided all the foundational infrastructure).

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Anon
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think Anon has nailed it.  Which is a big achievement as we ve all been working on this over many posts, Ali s framework, iron clad rules, one default thing etc.  They were all good tries but NQR as we say in Australia.

I did have one other thought but I will chime in at the end.  I don't want to derail such a valuable thread.

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Lucio BuffalmanoAli ScarlettAnon

Yes, thank you for sharing this Anon. I especially liked this part where you suggest a general state of mind (broaden the scope and state your values) to have, rather than specific words - cause I am a bit focused on the words right now. I will try to have this in mind in social interactions.

Quote from Anon on June 24, 2022, 10:12 pm

Them: Made a statement or asked a question.

You:

- broaden the scope of the topic a bit (zoom out of it so to speak)
- disagree with certain parts of their statement that go against your values
- agree with certain parts (first disagreeing and then ending on agreeing with something is better to cushion the disagreement-blow and preserve rapport)

These 3 steps (and having an intuition on when to use them) are basically all one needs to know to respond with this highly effective pattern, no knowledge of specific phrases required.

I haven't much to add in terms of good strategies as I am still trying things out, but I do have one situation where I didn't say anything, but where I wish I had said something which might be interesting to discuss:

I was on a trip with my work colleagues, we were on a social weekend trip and there were all these kinds of courses we could sign up for. As I did not know many people there, I was very glad to see one person that I knew from my division on one of the courses, and I asked him joyfully as I approached him: Are you excited about the art course? And he answered: I am here already. Do I need to say more? I felt that that answer just killed the conversation. That is fine that he didn't meet me in the same mood, but I felt rejected. Maybe I am putting too much into it, but I would have felt better if I had said something in return. But I just went silent.
Maybe like: "Wow, come down with the excitement" and then continued with "I am very excited. The two artists that are having the course are famous in their genre..."
I think by this response I show that I just wanted to share the joy with him, and if he didn't want to join, I just continued enjoying myself.
Not even sure this was a power move, but I did not feel good by the interaction.

What type of state of mind do you think would be appropriate in this situation?

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Anon
Quote from Maya88 on June 25, 2022, 1:22 pm

I asked him joyfully as I approached him: Are you excited about the art course? And he answered: I am here already. Do I need to say more? I felt that that answer just killed the conversation. That is fine that he didn't meet me in the same mood, but I felt rejected. Maybe I am putting too much into it, but I would have felt better if I had said something in return. But I just went silent.

Hi Maya!

My take is that he was, at the very least, dismissive.

I would have answered with something like

You (smiling): I see you are really excited to be here! I don’t think I can match your level of excitement, so please excuse me.

Other possibility:

You: (Sly smile) Only if you care about behaving like a normal polite person.

If instead he was just shy (you know better), than just ignoring and continuing to talk, as you write above, could be best.

As to your question about state of mind: I think the best thing is entering into all situations with the understanding that everything can change in minutes.

Even a real friend can behave badly unexpectedly.

If you keep your mind open to all possibilities, you have more options and can immediately switch into other modes of interacting.

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KavalierMaya88

Awesome that you find this interesting 🙂
The topic came up as I'm currently working on a social muscles learning environment (basically the attempt to build a nice little garden around the massive Mansion that Power University is), and I try to find ways to make sense of it all - to find shortcuts, patterns and ways to be as effective as possible with as little mental overhead as possible.

I think one hands-on way to find those broadly applicable response patterns as well as specific phrases is to have many real-world examples of (ideally common) powermoves close together in one thread, so we can immediatly test different patterns and ideas out on many examples.

This gives us the opportunity to test and find effective goto responses or fallbacks as well as have a quick <2-seconds-reply-challenge from time to time, and we can propably categorize similiar powermoves-patterns in several subcategories.

So as a more practical counterpart to this thread, I propose this thread where everyone can list short and common powermoves that they have seen getting thrown at others or have been through themselves.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMaya88dsnw2022
Quote from Maya88 on June 25, 2022, 1:22 pm

Yes, thank you for sharing this Anon. I especially liked this part where you suggest a general state of mind (broaden the scope and state your values) to have, rather than specific words - cause I am a bit focused on the words right now. I will try to have this in mind in social interactions.

Hi Maya,

to clarify, the high level response pattern I used as an example (The Philosphers Frame) was just one out of many.

You find lots of different ones in the frame control PU module, and they tend to have different applications. The philosophers Frame is particularly suitable for all kinds of discussions and debates, for example when someone asks you something about a heated topic with 2 sides opposing each other and you don't want to commit to either one.

Recently Ali used it as part of a more complex response here, and I was quite impressed with the outcome (considering how challenging the situation was), and especially how Lucio further enhanced it. This is a great example of what you can build when you are familiar with these patterns as building blocks of more complex responses that combine several of them.

 

Quote from Maya88 on June 25, 2022, 1:22 pm

I asked him joyfully as I approached him: Are you excited about the art course? And he answered: I am here already. Do I need to say more? I felt that that answer just killed the conversation. That is fine that he didn't meet me in the same mood, but I felt rejected. Maybe I am putting too much into it, but I would have felt better if I had said something in return. But I just went silent.

But for the situation you describe it wouldn't have worked well because this was about shutting a conversation down (if they didn't say that as a joke, but somewhat condescendingly and in a way to reject you, which I assume was the case).

If someone does that, I think a very good pattern would be to simply wish them well and move on to someone who does appreciate your presence.

 

Quote from Bel on June 25, 2022, 1:36 pm
Quote from Maya88 on June 25, 2022, 1:22 pm

I asked him joyfully as I approached him: Are you excited about the art course? And he answered: I am here already. Do I need to say more? I felt that that answer just killed the conversation. That is fine that he didn't meet me in the same mood, but I felt rejected. Maybe I am putting too much into it, but I would have felt better if I had said something in return. But I just went silent.

Hi Maya!

My take is that he was, at the very least, dismissive.

I would have answered with something like

You (smiling): I see you are really excited to be here! I don’t think I can match your level of excitement, so please excuse me.

Other possibility:

You: (Sly smile) Only if you care about behaving like a normal polite person.

If instead he was just shy (you know better), than just ignoring and continuing to talk, as you write above, could be best.

As to your question about state of mind: I think the best thing is entering into all situations with the understanding that everything can change in minutes.

Even a real friend can behave badly unexpectedly.

If you keep your mind open to all possibilities, you have more options and can immediately switch into other modes of interacting.

 

To include @Bel

I completely sympathize with your replies in that it is bad manners to simply shut someone down, especially someone who approaches you (that takes courage!). And it can make the world a better place if people like that face such consequences all the time.

Yet I think it would be ideal to not try to hit them back and steep at their level, but just be thankful that they haven't wasted your time but told you as quick as possible that you two are not a good fit and you are now free to talk to someone who is more on your level.

 

So I think good would have been:

You: "I see, have fun!" *leaves smiling*

But without any passive-aggressiveness - you don't want to get infected with their bad mood and just leaving them this fast is already enough in my opinion. Things are slightly different if their move harmed you in front of other people, but even then this response and the disengagement are pretty good overall.

 

That way you don't make enemies unnecessarily, because you don't attack them. If they are rude like that, they are in a bad state of mind, and that is punishment enough, just disengage quickly and find nice people.

The challenge is to not take it personal, and I think a good mentality is to allow people to not wanting to talk to you (doesn't mean they have the right to treat you badly, but it helps with not taking it personal).

 

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMaya88Beldsnw2022

I think it depends on the tone of the other person and, as you say, on whether others were present. It also depends on where you are in life.

The guy could have definitely phrased it better if he just wanted to stay alone, but I agree he could have been just shy and not nasty.

My worst memory of a situation like this was me approaching a guy whom I knew, who was in a table full of his friends, and saluting him warmly.

He then asked me:

Him: How’s it going?

Me: Good thank you.

Him: Sex from morning to evening as usual?

I was simply speechless. Days later, he was not surprised I wouldn’t talk to him.

Now I would go with:

Me: Better than what you do with your hand all day for sure.

or

Me: (to the others) Guys, I can just leave, but I sympathize with you that unfortunately are stuck with this guy for the evening. Cheers

@Maya88

One of the many gems you will find in PU is the traffic lights.  That show you if you should make a response and how hard you should go.  I mention because both Anon and Bel s suggestions are good in different situations.

Because it was one on one and social chit chat i.e. no big loss for you I d see this as yellow and go with Anon s approach.

If it was an enemy and in front of your work colleagues I d go with Bel s approach.

As PU teaches default to positivity even with people who are  a-holes because there s no downside.  You will sound nice and friendly and they will look even bigger of an a-hole to bystanders.

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Lucio BuffalmanoKavalierMaya88

Ok guys, I understand from the consensus that my post is, again, an overreaction, so scrap it 🙂

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