Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Start where they are, not where you wish they would be, part of Influencing Others.
If you flew to an unfamiliar city where an old friend lives, and called them from the airport to ask directions to their place, what if they said, sure, start at my front door, then knock on it and I'll let you in. Clear to them, but not very helpful to you. The directions need to start from where you are, not from where they want you to end up. It's similar with influence. To influence someone better and faster, start where they actually are. In their thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. Not where you wish they would be. You need to immerse yourself in their perspective.
To do it, let's look at three key success factors. One, their objectives relative to yours. Two, their perceived relationship with you. And three, their operating style. First, their objectives relative to yours. The key thing is, what do they likely think about your influence objective? Are they for it or against it? Strongly or moderately? Why might they support it? How does it connect with something that they want? And this next one is crucially important. Why might they resist it? What concerns does it raise for them? If someone asked them, for example, what are their top three concerns? What would be their actual answers in order? The second factor is their perceived relationship with you.
How do they feel about you? Is your relationship strong, trust-based and characterized by open communication? Or, is it more towards the other side of the spectrum? Is there negative history and distrust that you need to take into account? The third factor is their operating style. What are they most likely to do when you approach them? What do you know about how the act when people try to persuade them? Do they ask questions, raise objections, get defensive, need to be right, avoid conflict, want data, et cetera? For each of these three factors write down real answers.
It often helps to brainstorm with a trusted thought partner. You'll avoid a lot of mistakes you otherwise wouldn't see coming. Here's an example among many from my experience. Scott is a manager at a large global health care firm. He wants to influence Marcus, the Vice President in charge of Vista Vision. He want's Marcus to approve more new hires and Scott prepared a strong case for why that's a good idea. When Scott raises the matter in a meeting Marcus moves on to the next issue. Scott speaks up, wait a minute, can we take a look at this decision, there are a lot of implications here.
No, says Marcus, we're moving on. Scott presses the issue. Marcus must be missing something, but it doesn't work. Marcus says firmly, I've made my decision. Scott's stunned. He feels devalued and disrespected. He's frustrated that Marcus is behaving in an authoritarian manner and cutting him off. But in this case, it's Scott who's making the influence mistake, because he didn't prepare for Marcus's point of view. Had he thought through the three factors, he would have avoided this problem. The first factor. Marcus's view of Scott's objective.
If Scott generated reasons why Marcus might resist the idea, it would occur to him that there might be factors in play beyond his awareness. And that hashing out the issue in public, could cause problems. The second factor, Marcus's view of his relationship with Scott. Now, Scott knows Marcus values his intelligence and directness. Because of that relationship, Scott should realize something else is on Marcus's mind, and that he can talk with him about it later in private. The third factor, Marcus's operating style. Normally, he'd welcome this rigorous debate from Scott, but because he was so uncharacteristically abrupt, it was another reason Scott should have seen warning signs that he was missing something in Marcus's perspective.
As it turned out, senior management was planning a reorganization and many decisions weren't yet made. Marcus knew that discussing the new hires would put him into an ethical bind. Scott made a huge mistake in the meeting because he was blind to the urgent messages Marcus was sending him. He was focusing too much on, how can I get Marcus to do what I want? He completely missed the much more important underlying question, why is Marcus doing this? As a result, he came across as less professionally mature, and it took a toll on the level of trust he had with Marcus and he had hard work to do to regain it.
Don't make Scott's mistake and do unnecessary damage to your results, relationships, and reputation just because you think your case is strong. Start where they are, not where you wish they would be. Generate answers for the three factors ahead of time. To influence better and faster, first understand then influence.
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- Turning objections into actions
- Adding more impact to your ideas
- Establishing urgency
- Using the influence advantage checklist
- Influencing to inspire
- And many more....<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.