An amount of my work with executives and leaders is about helping them influence someone to think differently or to take action.
Together, we work through their scenario so that they have a plan that they’re confident will create listening and receptivity in the other person.
Their success rate is so impressive. (I love this stuff!)
Think about an important conversation that you are about to have, one in which it’s vital that the other party listens to you with an open mind.
Let’s dig in and look at the foundation stones that you need to have in place so that your conversation will create listening and receptivity. And so that you give yourself the best shot at influencing the other person to think the way that you want them to think or to take the action that you want them to take.
Here Are The Important Bits
Believe it or not there are just three foundation stones you need to have in place. They’re in the form of questions:
- What’s your intended outcome for the discussion?
- Have you gotten out of your head?
- What’s in it for them to listen to you?
1. What’s your intended outcome for the discussion?
The first critical foundation stone is for you to have real clarity on your intention for your communication—and write it down.
Double-check that it’s not too big a chunk for this one conversation.
Here’s an example of a clear and reasonable intention:
“My intention is to persuade my boss to not take any action for three months.”
2. Have you gotten out of your head?
Most people put way too much emphasis on presenting a “logical” argument—and don’t give nearly enough attention to the emotions of the situation. Limiting your communication to the facts and logic just isn’t going to cut it, especially if their logic doesn’t align well with your logic.
You need to disclose what’s going on for you emotionally—how you’re feeling about the situation and the conversation that you’re about to have. And you need to check in with the other person to learn how they’re feeling about things too.
When you and they share feelings, you’ll create:
- A fuller understanding of what’s really going on.
- Increased authenticity, and therefore increased rapport.
- More trust, because the entire scenario is being shared.
- Less stress. Sharing how you feel reduces the intensity in the pressure-cooker.
- More listening and more receptivity to hearing a different point of view.
To put yourself in a better position to influence their thinking, you’ll need to touch them on an emotional level.
So, say how you’re feeling. For example:
“I’m concerned that if we jump in now we’ll not be in a good position to xyz. And this troubles me a lot. How are you feeling about our current situation and where to from here?”
3. What’s in it for them to listen to you?
They’re busy juggling priorities, right? So how will you get them to be interested in what you’re about to say and in your proposition?
By linking what you’re saying to their needs and their concerns – that’s how!
What are their thoughts and feelings about the issue you’re about to put on the table? If you don’t know, you’d better find out before you present your argument.
It’s vital that, up front, you speak about their position and the benefits of your proposal to them.
This alone will have them more inclined to listen to you with an open mind. You’ll notice that by talking about what’s in it for them, they’ll give more attention to the issues that you care about too.
For example, you could say:
“I really do appreciate that quickly getting a successful outcome is critical—and I understand that you’re banking on it.
The plan I want to tell you about will create an even more successful outcome pretty quickly too.”
Your Leadership Call To Action
Let’s track back:
- Who do you want to influence to do what?
- Specifically, what’s your overall outcome?
And what’s the outcome you want to create in your next conversation with them?
- How do you feel about the current situation, what you’re about to propose, and about having a conversation with them about it?
- Are you clear about their wants and needs, and their thoughts and feelings about this issue?
OK, equipped with the answers to those questions, it’s time for you to arrange a time to have this compelling discussion!
As always, give me a yell if you want support with this or another aspect of moving towards being an exemplary leader.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Carolyn Stevens has worked with leaders for more than 25-years—hundreds of them.
She’s supported leader after leader (including those who previously struggled to confront the difficult, let alone persuasively deal with the it) flourish—and become confident, courageous and impressively influential.
Carolyn is authentic and results-oriented. She draws on an eclectic array of approaches, tools and techniques to suit the situation.