Business Performance Consulting, Leadership, People

Why is Influencing Such Hard Work?

Two people are on opposite sides of a ravine. Person 1 asks person 2: “Say, how do I get to the other side?” Person 2 replies: “You’re already there!”

We’re all so busy processing so much information and interruptions these days. It is easy to forget not only that organizations are all about people, but that the key to influencing people is based on truly understanding them and their point of view.

A great book came out recently, Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving, by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.

In addition to great case studies and sections like “the dangers of the disconnect”, the book outlines how to bridge the communication chasm.

We often make the mistake of starting with how WE see things. To help another person move, we need to start with how THEY see things. The book suggests three ways to do this:

1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get “It”
Can you offer ideas that show you truly understand the opportunities (including ego) and challenges the other person is facing?

2. Personal Awareness: You Get “Them”
How can you connect on a personal level to show that you understand their goals, hopes, priorities, needs, limitations, fears, and concerns?

3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress
How can you do to show shed light on a positive path that lets them make progress on THEIR OWN terms. What options can be made to empower them? Based on their situation how do the possibilities you offer make things better nad help them think more clearly?

When you start practicing all three forms of awareness you begin to understand who people are and what they need to move forward. Often others can’t even see the path in front of them and need a second pair of eyes who understands what’s important to them to see it.

In influencing, instead of pulling others to where you are at, why not go to where they are? In other words, invest the time and effort to walk a mile in their shoes.

A few questions from the book that can be used to check yourself include:

  • Do I ‘get’ who this whole person is?
  • Do I ‘get’ their world?
  • Are my options going to help this person?
  • How do I know this person gets that I get them?


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