Welcome back! Today, we are looking at a little known but interesting tactic called fogging.
Fogging is a great technique for when you are suddenly verbally attacked, and often, verbal attacks ARE sudden because the other person has to have built up a head of steam before having the courage to say something to you.
What Is Fogging?
The basic principle of fogging is that you don’t attack or defend, you don’t admit that you’re wrong, but you also don’t say that they are wrong—you just put up a wall of fog. And, as the saying goes, punching fog is very difficult.
The main thing in fogging is to remain detached:
• You don’t deny or contest the criticism that you receive from the other person.
• You don’t get defensive.
• You don’t respond with criticism of the other person.
• You don’t allow yourself to get annoyed by any personal or subjective elements of the criticism. If you disagree with them, you just ignore them and acknowledge just those parts of the statement you agree with.
• You don’t commit to doing something purely because the other person thinks that you should.
So for example, if someone attacks you with, “You’re useless at your job,” you could fog with “Well, nobody’s perfect,” or, “You’re entitled to your opinion.” If they were expecting an argument, a verbal fight, then this will disconcert them, and if they were expecting you to say, “Yes, I am useless, I admit it,” then they will be disappointed.
Other good fogging phrases are, “I can see why you might think that,” “Sorry if I’ve upset you,” or “I’m doing the best I can.”
And it’s absolutely fine to begin your foggy statement with, “Yes.” For example, when faced with “You’re always late!”, you could fog with, “Yes, sorry I’m late this time, I can see how that would be very irritating,” or when faced with, “You don’t care about this company,” you could fog with, “Yes, I can see why you’d think that based on my working hours, though they don’t tell the whole story.”
It’s Only Step One
Now the one thing about fogging to be aware of—and it’s quite a big thing—is that it doesn’t solve the problem. The purpose of fogging is to give you time to think and to absorb the initial attack so you can get the result you want in a calm way with less opposition. So, fogging is only step one, and the next step could be anything from admitting fault to fighting back.
Here is a continuum of example approaches: “I’m sorry, I’ll work on improving,” “What do you want to do to resolve the situation?,” “Tell me more about why it’s a problem to you,” “You’re completely wrong and I can prove it,” or, “You have no right to criticize me and l’d like you to back off.”
Homework: Try some fogging, or at least remember a recent situation where you were taken by surprise, and think of a couple of foggy statements that you could have made, so you have them ready for next time.
I’ll see you tomorrow when we’ll be looking at the amazing Four-Step Process!
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