June 24, 2010


Bethenny's therapist does a lot more than treat New York neurotics. Xavier Amador, the clinical psychologist on the new Bravo reality show, Bethenny Getting Married?,not only counsels individuals but has also built a career as an author, executive coach and consultant with a slew of corporate and government clients.

Amador, 50, uses many of the same methods with both individuals and corporate clients. His book I'm Right, You're Wrong, Now What?, lays out a strategy he calls LEAP, for listen, empathize, agree, partner. It applies to salary negotiations, to disagreements with partners or colleagues or underlings and even to challenging sales assignments.

An acronym enthusiast ("acronyms help me to remember"), Amador says the first step is "L," for listen. That may sound simple, but often it's very hard. In sales, for instance. Before he became a psychologist, Amador worked for an Arizona company that sold solar heating. Rather than simply trying to push his product, he found he got further if he patiently listened to his potential clients' objections.

"What am I going to do with solar heat and hot water when I'm trying to cool our house and swimming pool four months of the year?," people would say. "I see your point," Amador would respond. "I wouldn't want solar heat during the summer and fall. It's too hot!" By acknowledging and accepting the protest with what he calls "reflective listening," he broke down defenses and made people curious about his product.

Another time one of Amador's corporate clients claimed he hadn't sent her an updated version of two reports. Amador knew he had. It was a classic "I'm right, you're wrong" situation. When he insisted she was wrong, the client got upset and defensive. Then he changed the tone by listening reflectively. "You've checked, and it's clear I didn't send you the revised reports?" he asked her. "Is that the bottom line?" Without conceding the point, he made it clear he had heard her argument. The client instantly calmed down.

Amador says it's important to focus on what you need rather than what you want. In this situation, he needed to bring down the temperature of the clash and resolve the standoff. So he simply reflected his client's (wrongheaded) view back to her, and he re-sent the reports.