This happens both in our personal lives and in the business world. The person that we are talking with is more important than you are. It does not matter who they are or who you are. They are more important. If you take this approach, you will be more successful.
Here is an example. A manager calls an employee into their office to discuss a behavior that was observed and gives the employee a written warning for the offense. Their decision is already made up and nothing that the employee has to say will change their mind. They are closed minded and unwilling to listen. How would you approach this differently if you took the approach that the employee was the most important person in the room?
I would suggest bringing the employee into your office to discuss the situation before making the decision to give them the written warning. Explain to them the situation (as you see it) and give them the opportunity to tell their side of the story. You then need to be quiet and listen. Do not think about what your next sentence will be, but just listen.
It is amazing what you can find out just by listening. It may not make the offense acceptable, but it may make it explainable. This gives you the opportunity for a coaching moment. You can teach them how to handle the situation in the future without putting their career in jeopardy. There may be issues in their department that need to be addressed that you were not even aware that existed.
More times than not, you will probably be able to coach them into being a stronger employee without going down the route of written counseling. This lets them leave your office with their dignity still intact. You can help them feel like they are a valuable part of your team. All of this is possible if you just be quiet and listen.
This same approach can be used in many areas of our lives. How do you approach the raising of your kids? Do you take the time to listen?
What other coachable moments can be improved by just being quiet and listening?