"The CFO is such an obstructionist. If this continues, we'll save ourselves dead."

This situation comes in all shapes and colours every day. They very often cross swords and try to convince each other. That's great as long as the focus can remain on the matter in hand. However, patterns quickly creep in that need to be broken.

There are few tricks that are as effective as this one. It is simple and works in almost all tricky situations: Honour the intention!  It takes a little creativity at the beginning because we are not used to it. Fun and effect come with practice:

  • The colleague shouts at you. Reaction: "I find it impressive how you are doing everything you can for this issue."
  • The employee is once again late for the meeting. Reaction: "I can't believe how many balls you can juggle."
  • The Chief Financial Officer mentioned in detail is standing still. Reaction: "It's great how you support the organisation's need for us to be in a good financial position."
  • etc...

Risks and side effects

Under no circumstances should the reactions be cynical. Rather, they must genuinely honour a relevant (presumed) aspect of the intention. We talk so much about empathy. This is true empathy: recognising that a person has different convictions on an important issue and acknowledging them. This unblocks deadlocked situations and enables new perspectives and arguments.

We judge ourselves by our intentions. But others by their actions. (Steven Covey)

This might also interest you:


Schmidt, Gunther (2008). Introduction to hypnosystemic therapy and counselling.