Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video The number one mistake influencers make without even realizing it, part of Influencing Others.
Despite our best intentions, many of our influence attempts fail before we really begin. Here's a great example of a number one mistake we make without even knowing it, when we try to influence others. My friend, James Nemly, told me about his first job selling picture frames. His boss told him to put a frame in the customer's hands, and by taking it, they'd feel more compelled to buy it. The first person James did that to, the guy dropped it, and kept walking. I want you to remember this example, because it terms the crucial but invisible influence concept of a frame, into a thing.
Now, there are two meanings of frame here. First, there is the object. A picture frame is a thing you put around paintings and photos. Second, there's the concept, our perspective frame, which is how we see things from our own point of view. We see things through the frame of our own motives, experiences, hopes, and concerns. James was imposing this picture frame on the guy, and expecting him to buy it. In the same way, we can unknowingly impose our perspective frame on others, and expect them to buy in. There's a familiar phrase, pushing your agenda on someone.
Now that's a common way of imposing your perspective frame. For James, the picture frame was full of meaning. It represented income for his family, paying bills, independence, money to do things. It signified potential pride and achievement for a job well done. But, for the other guy, the frame meant nothing. It was, literally, an empty object. It wasn't his frame. Buy it? He didn't even want to touch it. But that's how different frames can be, and we need to internalize that so we don't sabotage our important influence priorities.
And when you think about it, that guy reacted in a way most of us do when others try to impose their agenda on us, even if they have good intentions. No one likes being pushed and shoved into thinking, feeling, or doing something. When we feel pushed, we tend to resist and resent. To ourselves, our frames in any influent situation is full of meaning, and we carry this invisible frame around with us everywhere, and it really matters to us. But others have their own frames. They see things from their perspective, not ours. Our frame might mean nothing to them. That's what happened to James.
To the other guy, the picture frame and James' perspective frame were one in the same, empty. James learned that a better approach for selling picture frames was to invite people to envision their favorite, most meaningful pictures and paintings. And how the right frame around them would make those pictures even more enjoyable. He invited people to put frames that they wanted around their pictures. He connected first with their prospective frames, before trying to sell his picture frames. To influence more effectively, we need to start with their frame, not ours.
So even when you strongly need to influence your boss, co-worker, spouse, customer service person, instead of shoving that frame into their hands, pushing our perspective on them and expecting buy in, we need a different starting point. Don't start with words or an attitude that conveys, you should do this or, here's what I want. That's our frame. That's our starting point. Instead, we need to begin with their frame. We need to start at their starting point. In makes sense, doesn't it? When you're influencing others you want them to think, feel, or do something different.
You want them to go from where they are, to some place else. But, our best intentions, passions and efforts constantly conspire into a sort of mental optical illusion, that our frame is the frame. And it should be just as meaningful to them as it is to us. Especially if we do them the favor of handing it to them. Do them, and yourself, the real favor of avoiding the number one influence mistake. Don't start by pushing your frame on them. Instead, take a look at theirs.
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- Establishing urgency
- Using the influence advantage checklist
- Influencing to inspire
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