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I want to tell you about an incredibly useful communication framework, one that I’ve used with almost every client I’ve ever had. It’s called Unarguable and Unmistakable, and it’s nothing more than a simple script to be authentic, direct, and effective in communicating with others. Yes, there are many similar frameworks, but I like Unarguable and Unmistakable because it’s so simple! It’s as simple as making an irrefutable statement followed by an undeniable request.
So, what does “indisputable” mean? First, “arguable” statements are any statements that we can argue with. It sounds simple, but this includes things that we often think are irrefutable, such as facts, data, and history. Saying “The sky is blue” may sound like a fact, but it’s completely debatable. I could tell you that the sky is dark where I am, or that I’m colorblind or that, “It’s not blue, it’s aquamarine!” Irrefutable statements, on the other hand, are things that are 100% in our domain and control.
There are only three things that are indisputable: our own sensations, our own emotions, and our own thoughts. “My shoulder hurts” is indisputable – it’s my shoulder. “I feel sad” is indisputable – it’s my emotion. And “I believe the sky is blue” is actually indisputable too, because I frame it as my thought or belief, which is 100% mine. Statements that are indisputable are powerful not because they are hard to refute, but because they are radically authentic and show others exactly where we come from.
When making unquestionable statements, we do not hide behind the facts and data or ask questions to indirectly convey intent. Instead of saying “This plan doesn’t make sense” or asking “Why did you come up with that plan?” we can say undeniably, “I’m concerned about this plan.” It sounds simple (because it is), but the difference is huge. Imagine being on the receiving end of those different statements, and notice how you feel and how you would react differently.
Related: Authentic Leadership: What Is It And Why Is It Important?
The second step, especially if you are in a leadership position or calling on someone, is to follow up your undeniable statement with an undeniable request. What makes a request unmistakable? It has to be three things: simple, real, and yes or no. Simple means that there is no more than one question in the question. Real means it’s not a statement masquerading as a question, like “Why did you come up with this plan?” which actually means “This plan sounds stupid, defend yourself!” And yes or no just means it’s a clear opt-in or out request. Undeniable requests might be, “Can I share my perspective?” or “Are you available for some feedback?”
The beauty of requests made this way is not only in the simplicity, but also in the fact that people are given the opportunity to say no, in which case there is clarity. Or they can say yes, in which case they chose to be part of the discussion. They are with you now and listening in a way that was not available to them when the discussion was one-sided.
Combining the above examples of irrefutable statements with undeniable requests might look like, “I’m worried about this plan; could you please walk me through your thoughts?” Notice how different that feels. Now the person on the other end knows exactly where you are from and can choose to be part of the future discussion. It’s not malicious or indirect, and to me it feels much more collaborative and authentic.
If all this makes sense to you, try becoming an anthropologist in the specialty of irrefutable statements. Notice and note when others use statements that are arguable or incontrovertible, getting curious about how each affects a conversation. Notice and record when you use those statements as well. Then put that into practice to both use the irrefutable statements and link them to clear, direct, unmistakable requests.
Related: Effective Communication Means Business Success