And so I responded with ‘Why?’, and RATIO was delivered into the world.
RATIO is simply a formula to achieve the best outcome when you’re challenged by an opinion or perspective which makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s a recipe for maintaining control. A strategy for following Aristotle’s excellent observation:
With that mindset, it’s natural that what follows is a genuine desire to find out what’s led them to that perspective. A is Ask. Magical things happen as we listen (proper listening, not just waiting to speak). We might hear something reasonable and logical that makes sense of their position and unlocks the conversation.
We might hear something which weakens their position, e.g. is factually incorrect and which we can call out. Or we might realise that while our hackles were busy rising, we misunderstood or misinterpreted what they said.
The T of RATIO is Think – processing, analysing what we’ve heard and thereby continuing to respect the other person rather than rushing to shut them down. It’s a fundamental principle of negotiation and conflict resolution that people who feel they’ve been listened to are more willing to listen.
The I of RATIO is Inform. Now it’s our turn to put our perspective forward. What’s important here is that we support it with evidence. That could be factual material, personal testimony, lived experience.
And finally, O is Offer – suggestions as to how the issue moves forward. What’s helpful here is to relax about turning their opinion round to yours (proving that you’re right and they’re wrong) but rather aiming for better mutual understanding and a broader perspective on the world than we had before. This is especially valuable since many of us, without realising it, are falling victim to the online echo chamber phenomenon where we are largely exposed to material which reinforces our existing beliefs.
You might offer to send them an interesting article; they might offer you a thought-provoking podcast or, in the case of a disagreement about the best chippie in the world, you might decide to visit each of your favourites together.
Now if that’s not worth giving RATIO a go, I don’t know what is.