Whilst driving to my next meeting, I heard this gem on a talkback show—“influencing is listening”…
Of course, the truth of that statement is a no-brainer. But how often do you get so tied up, so enthusiastic, about your own perspective that you forget to listen? We all do to some degree.
And unless you listen to the other person’s perspective, your capacity to influence is seriously limited!
Habitually, how much time and energy do you put into sincerely understanding the other person’s perspective, so you can stand squarely in their shoes—before you share your perspective with them?
What’s Your Position?
You might have previously encountered this nice little model that encourages us to take the other person’s perspective. It’s called “Perceptual Positioning”…
- First position is your position—what you perceive, think and feel when you’re firmly and squarely standing in your own shoes.Spending too much time in this position weakens your ability to understand the other person’s position—and therefore your capacity to influence them.
- Second position is the other person(s) position—of what they perceive, of what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.Ah, stepping into this position would be called listening!
- Third position is the disassociated, helicopter position—the perspective that a detached, rational fly on the wall would have. (Hmmm, I’ve never considered a “rational” fly before.)Third position supports you in seeing both first and second positions for what they are, therefore contributing to your understanding of the other person’s circumstances and orientation.
Each of the three positions offers value. And highly emotionally intelligent leaders have developed a wonderful flexibility to move from one position to another throughout a conversation.
The Bottom Line For Leaders Who Need To Persuade
- Be very clear on your own position. How can you be powerfully influential if you don’t have clarity on your own desired outcomes.
- Spend time listening, in second position, to the other person’s orientation until you have a clear understanding of their thoughts, feelings and perspectives.
- Then, having viewed their orientation, you’ll find a more realistic and practical path to leading their thinking to encompass yours—especially if you’ve been able to suitably tailor your approach to encompass their requirements.
Your Leadership Call to Action
Jump into the other person’s shoes and your capacity to influence them will be enormously heightened—and you’ll feel like a really decent human being to boot .
Here’s what I suggest…
- Think of a discussion that’s around the corner for you, one in which you want to be highly influential.
- Draw a Perceptual Positions map—with you on the first branch, the other person (or people) on the second branch, and the helicopter on the third branch.
- Under each branch, note the perspective from that position. Consider the thoughts and feelings from a first position and second position perspective, and then the logical, rational helicopter perspective.
- Initiate your conversation with the first-up intent of asking them questions to flesh out your understanding of their perspective.Listen with your ears, eyes, head and heart so you improve your understanding of their perspective.
Right through the conversation, keep checking to make sure you’re still in touch with their position.
- Then notice how much more influential you are when you take that perspective.
I’m interested in hearing your perspective on this. Give me a yell if you want to share your thinking, or if you want help with any of this stuff.
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.