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Contrary: Dealing With Polarity Responders

Nov 30, 2007
What's a polarity responder? We've all had dealings with them. They are someone who no matter what the situation, statement or issue at hand, has to respond in opposition. 'It's a beautiful day.'

Polarity responder: 'It's too hot. And there isn't enough shade. I'm not comfortable at all in this weather.'

Ugh. This is the sort of response you will get to any and all comments or questions by a polarity responder.

Polarity responders are easy to spot. Personally, I love to deal with them. I relax and think, 'Next time they do it, they're mine.' I love giving them something to respond to that is to my advantage.

The next time you're eliciting criteria, look for the words 'different' or 'difference'. Polarity responders will use these often. They are incredibly 'difference' oriented, as in they will always see things the opposite of you in most or all matters so there are ways that you can bind them and fix a trap which makes it nearly impossible for them to continue this habit.

If you have a disruptive employee or teenager or client who is a polarity responder, try this: 'Would you do me a favor?' PR: 'Sure. What can I do for you?'

'Only if you want to, you don't have to. I don't want to put you out.'

PR: 'No. What is it? What is it?'

'Okay, what I wanted to ask you is, would you listen closely to what's going on and if you hear that I've ever said something that isn't quite in keeping with what you think should be going on here, would you bring it to my attention right away?'

PR: 'Certainly. But what you're saying is great. You really know your stuff.'

'Well, I know, but I know you're going to find something so I want you just to bring it to my attention.'

This is a 'polarity responder' trap. If they find something wrong with what you're saying and bring it to your attention, then they've done exactly what you asked them to do. If they don't, then they haven't been true to their polarity. Either way, you're a winner. It binds them, in a way, preventing them from entering their polarity response. What they'll try to do is listen closely so they can come up with something to tell you, thereby not interrupting you in your presentation.

PR: 'Well, you know, you said this and I was curious why.'

'That's incredibly important. I'm glad you noticed this. I knew there was no way you couldn't bring that up so I'm really glad you did.'

Are they going to bring up the next thing they've noticed? No. Probably not, because they might fear you saying, 'I knew you'd bring that up too.' That response really pisses off the polarity responder.

Utilizing patterns to your advantage is the key to persuasion. This is a really easy one to counteract. My intention is to diffuse this pattern so it doesn't obstruct anyone else either.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion techniques.
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