In my persuasion writing, I introduced a method of formulating persuasive responses called The ACE Model. Persuasion research indicates that most rational attempts to influence appeal to appropriateness, consistency or effectiveness of an action. Appropriateness appeals focus on whether what was said or done is right or wrong in a particular group, organization or society. “That just isn’t done here” is an appropriateness response. So is “Allan and Phil won’t like hearing that you think that way.” Consistency appeals focus on how one behavior fits with prior ones. “It just isn’t like you to say something like that” and “Given what you said earlier, what you’re doing now is a complete contradiction” are consistency appeals. Effectiveness appeals refer to whether something works. “That will never get you where you want to go” and “Around here if you want to be respected, you think before you speak.”
Try using the ACE model as a shortcut way to think of responses to conflict.
Appropriateness: “Around here Ed, we don’t shoot from the hip with insults to make a point.”
Consistency: “You’re not quite yourself today, Ed.”
Effectiveness: “That comment might get some misplaced anger off of your chest but it doesn’t move us along on this project.”
Appropriateness: “As a rule, Ed, we try to make constructive comments at these meetings.”
Consistency: “You weren’t thinking that way before the meeting when I ran this idea by you.”
Effectiveness: “You have my attention but what you really want is my cooperation, so let’s focus on that.”
The beauty of the ACE approach is that it’s easy to remember and so can be implemented quickly.