UK political party conference season draws to a close.
In widely reported remarks, the top finance minister, Chancellor George Osborne, was asked to respond to a spurious tabloid frontpage headline.
It was from a Left and therefore vehemently-opposed-to-the-current-government newspaper. It ranted that his latest policy initiative, dubbed “work-for-dole” was “back to the workhouse”.
A joyful gift for scurrilous tv interviewers.
Each one along the news conveyor of the day began their slot pondering if he was “heartless”. His response was adroit.
“I’ll tell you want I think is heartless – it is leaving the long-term unemployed to just recycle through job centres and never get a proper chance of getting a job.
This is for people who have been unemployed for more than three years and we are saying we are going to help you get into work, but we’re going to ask for something in return… I think it is a very compassionate approach to people who previous governments just ignored, and I don’t think that’s very fair.”
The latter part is one for the political chatterati to savour.
It is his opening that struck me as such a useful sales tool.
I found myself using the same framework to wonderful disarming affect later that same day.
You simply take the word used to slap you down, and re-frame it so that it evokes something else that is undesirable that you stop happening rather.
It’s a technique that has broad application.
“Your proposal isn’t good” is the themed assault you receive from an unimpressed prospect. “What isn’t good is the problem you’re presently harassed by…” are the beginnings of your reply. That kind of vibe.
So long as you don’t get all politico-confrontational, it strikes me as a good way of gaining common ground where there once appeared none.
As an objection handling tactic, imagine if your allies prospect-side uncovered any scepticism towards your plans before a big meet-up. Take the precise words used and prepare how to slant the argument back on your terms with a contrary statement like the Chancellor.