Category Archives: How To Persuade

Are You “Should-ing” All Over Everyone?

3 Easy Ways for People to Take On Your Advice

 

“Now, what you should do is…” “Well, it’s obvious, you should do this, then you should do that and then you should tell them you’ve done it”.

Should do. What you should do and what you want to and actually do are often very different things. Even if the advice we’ve been given is spot on, the fact that we’ve been told we ‘should’ do it is often the very reason we don’t. So if that’s the reaction we have, it’s the reaction that others will have when we ‘should’ all over them. Hmmm.

There’s something innately irritating to be told we should be doing something. It implies – this is the subtle, savvy part to understand – it implies that we’re not doing something and that the other person is wiser that we are. It’s implicit that we’ve missed a trick and they haven’t. That they know better exactly what will work for us. Well, in reality, we know best – better than anyone – what works for us and as we all know, making a decision ourselves and then sticking to it is always more powerful than carrying out other people’s advice. We own the outcome and, as such, are responsible for the result. (Or, in this case, response-able).

One of the big pieces of being an influential communicator as you work is to put across your ideas, suggestions, or advice (still need to do this!) and, at the same time, allow the other person to decide for themselves how, and if, it will work for them. It then becomes their decision, their action. This principle applies just as effectively, if not more so, at home with our families and friends – and those trickiest of customers, your children.

So, how do you get across your idea, suggestion, advice without saying “what you should do is” or “I think you should…”?

Here are 3 quick and easy ways which work, for you to try out:

  1. Start with “I’ve got an idea for you..” – this way you’re putting out that it’s only an idea and it’s for you to contemplate and understand if and how it will work. By saying “I’ve got” you’re telling the other person “OK, I’m ready with something that I think you’ll want but it’s up to you what you do with it”.
  2. Say “I’m going to make a suggestion here” – again, you’re putting across that you have something to offer and you want to get their buy-in before you just throw it at them. 9 times out of 10, if you’ve read the situation and your relationship correctly, the other person will be more open.
  3. Think aloud – “hmmm, that’s tricky, now I wonder if…” – you can hear (and feel) that you’re firstly empathising that they have an issue or something tricky going on ie, they’re not an idiot – and saying “I wonder if” is a pensive, non-confrontational way of offering your thought or suggestion.

As with all of the 3 ideas above, avoiding the ‘should’ word once you start with these phrases is crucial. Remember, by offering your thoughts in a less fixed way, you leave the other person open to taking on what you think but without your judgement (intentional or otherwise) behind it.

So, I’m going to make a suggestion here Amanda. Try these phrases on for size the next time you feel yourself about to say “well, you should” or “oh, it’s obvious, what you should do is…” You’ll notice the difference in how easily the other person/s take on what you think and if they ignore you then at least they know you contributed your thoughts.

As I always say at dinner time to my husband, “There are two choices for dinner. Take it. Or leave it.” I bet, like he does, they’ll take it more often than not.

How often are you up close – and personal?

There’s no substitute for the ‘LIVE’ or personalised version of You

It’s easy to get lulled into this false sense of reality isn’t it? Instead of picking up the phone to speak to someone, you drop them an email or send them a message or a text. Instead of dropping someone a note, you can instant message, Skype message or send them an eCard. Instead of going to a networking event, social gathering, exhibition or event, you can show up online. All of these ways of being in touch, of showing up on the radar, are virtually instant and take very little effort. They work too, to an extent. There’s also a darker side too, a sense of disconnectedness.

What I also know to be true is this. There is nothing like being there in-person, in-the-room and pressing the flesh with other people. The energy, the sense of connectedness, the opportunity to take yourself out of your environment and put yourself in another, all adds to the mix and what comes out of that is so very different than being ‘virtual’.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m the first to enjoy, leverage and actively revel in all the gizmos and ways of working with people virtually. It’s something I’ve come to love about working in this ‘small world’ way. Working with a client who was based in Melbourne to navigate her successfully to a promotion proved the point. We never met and are unlikely to.

What is often underestimated though is how disconnected we can feel and be perceived, when we take ourselves, our personalised selves, out of the mix too much and too regularly – often without necessarily being conscious of it.

Let me ask you a few quick questions.

  • Have you ever emailed someone who’s in the same room/office as you because you can’t face or make time to go across and speak to them?

  • Have you ever emailed someone instead of calling them as an easy ‘get out’?

  • Have you ever texted someone a ‘round robin’ Thank You note instead of either calling or writing them a personal note?

  • Do you find yourself sending an ‘Apologies’ meeting alert rather than calling the person to say you can’t attend?

  • Have you ever wished you’d met up with someone in person sooner rather than wasting time going back/forth on email?

I know, like me, some – or all – of your answers will be a ‘Yes’. I ask myself, just before sending an email or text, is this the best way to be in touch today? Clients constantly tell me that they can’t “get people to do what they want them to” or they struggle to get people to respond to them. When pressed, it’s often because they lack connection with the other person/s. That’s where the secret of ‘pressing the flesh’ or personalising can change things in an instant.

You don’t have to spend your life bouncing around the world on planes or being so busy going to meetings or writing notes you never give yourself time to implement or think. No, of course not. I don’t either.

Here are a few starters for you if you decide to show up ‘personally’ more than you are.

  • When you go to email someone, pick up the phone and call instead. Even if you leave a voicemail and send an email afterwards, you connected, you made the effort. They hear your ‘real life’ voice. It means something, to them.

  • Instead of sending an RSVP by email – call or drop a personal, hand-written note instead. Your voice, your writing all counts more as you being ‘in person’.

  • When you look at an invitation and think “No, too busy” – just ask yourself “How can I make it work so I can go?” so you let people see you and be with you, even for some of the time if not all of it, as you with them.

  • When you do decide to show up in person, instead of hanging with people you know, challenge yourself to meet and greet at least 5 people you’ve never met before. You only have to be open to asking them a few questions and, off you go!

  • When you’re with other people, be more interested in them, rather than being interested in them being interested in you. That’s where the true magic is – they magically become more interested in you anyway – aha!

Daniel Goleman who wrote the transformational – and much quoted – book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ says “When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.” I believe he’s right. A big piece of that is coming forward to make a personalised – not impersonalised – connection. Go on, I dare you.

Give People The Meaning

Avoid leaving them grappling for what you really mean

We are all meaning-seeking machines. Well, what I mean by that is we naturally go inside our heads when we hear, read, see something and try to put meaning around it. Put context or a framework around something to make it make sense to us.

Knowing that we are all always seeking, naturally, the meaning for us, for others, for a situation in what is happening around us. So, because you’re a meaning-seeking machine, you can help others understand both you, and themselves, more by giving them your meaning. Sometimes it’s actively useful to let others make up their own minds as to ‘what it means’ but more often than not, especially in the workplace, it’s more helpful and time-saving to give people that framework.

‘In other words….’, ‘by that I mean….’ ‘so this will mean….’ ‘or we could say…’.

Can you hear that by using those phrases, which are very normal and easy on the ear, you naturally offer your listener or reader a bit more information? Give them more of an opportunity to ‘get it’.

Too often people take things as face value and nod thinking ‘Heyho, I’ll have to find out later what that means’ or ‘I’ve no idea what he or she just said but hopefully it won’t matter’. Well it does. It matters a lot when we want to make sure we’re understood and when you’re looking for promotion or more money, we need people to be able to take on our ideas, our opinions and do so easily. It’s simple too.

Everyday, we’re translating what someone has said or written or done and making our own sense of it. Notice the ‘our own’ sense of it. Your sense of something will be different to mine because we’re different, aren’t we? What we can do to bridge that difference is to ensure, as far as we can, that we offer enough information – often said one way and then another way – to make it easy for the other person to understand us. By that I mean clarify or expand a bit.

A prime example of this is when Snowy, my long-suffering husband and life-long case study, says to me something like ‘Oh, XYZ happened today’ and just stops. Immediately, I hear in my head ‘and?’ or ‘because?’ and we’re married. He now knows to give me one more sentence with some context about ‘why’ that happened or ‘what it means’.

What about your colleagues; your team; you boss; your clients wherever they are in the world and however you contact them? They will have the same sort of questions popping up in their heads too. They do and will. So answer the questions naturally up front. In other words give them the meaning – the consequences or the background.

So what does this mean for you? Well it means you’ll get clearer too about what you think something means. For the other person it may mean something else but they’ll understand you more, your point of view, your position. As they say respond ‘and it could also mean’ or ‘actually, I think XYZ’ you’ll find yourselves naturally discussing something that might have just been stated and left hanging without either of you really understanding what you meant to say.

Ideas for you to start working with today:

  • Be ready to use ‘by that I mean’ and ‘in other words’ or ‘i.e.’ and those sort of expressions which immediately tell the other person you’re going to make sure they know what you mean – without patronizing them.
  • Notice when someone else makes a statement without the context, the meaning – notice firstly if anyone else asks and notice if you automatically ask yourself ‘I wonder what he or she means by that?’ If you think it’s appropriate and there’s time, ask. ‘Can you just tell me a bit more about that please’ or ‘what will that mean, please?’ You’ll tell both the person and anyone else involved that you don’t just take things at face value, you’re prepared to dig a bit deeper, you want to understand and you’ll do it in a natural, inquisitive way.
  • You’ll have noticed the ‘please’ – that’s crucial. To avoid your question being confrontational and to be more about information-gathering, the ‘please’ is not only polite (we already know polite is an easier way to be in the world anyway) but it’s essential. It makes it a request and not a demand. We all respond much more easily to requests and less so to demands, don’t we? By that I mean, requests are desires, and demands are instructions. Which do you prefer to receive?

The least of things with a meaning is worth more in life than the greatest of things without it.’ ~ Carl Gustav Jung

Extracted from The A to Z of Being Understood – M is for Meaning. Available on Amazon & Audible as a book, Kindle & Audiobook.

Ask for what it is you actually want.

Avoid confusing matters by focussing on what you don’t want!

I hear this so often “Oh Kay, I just don’t want to XYZ” or “Oh, it’s so annoying, I don’t want to get wound up by X” or “I just don’t want to make that mistake again” and so it goes on.

Can you see how the focus in each of these is what you don’t want. What the person wants to avoid and yet the “I don’t want to” is the nub of the phrase.

Now I learned, many moons ago, when first studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) that negative suggestions cannot be processed by the brain without having to focus on the suggestion first. For example, if I say to you “Don’t think of a pink elephant” you and I both know the first thing you do is have to think of a pink elephant and then maybe put a cross through it. If I were to say to you “Think of a green hippopotamus” as a direct suggestion, that’s exactly what you do.

What is so subtle here is the effect it has on those around us when we give directions, when we ask for what we want (or ask for what we don’t want as is more often the case) and how we can often get exactly what it is we don’t want – because the direct command or suggestion was in the negative.

You might be thinking “Yes Kay, blah blah I know about do and don’t” but I’d counter that and say “Do you really?”

How often have you said to your child, partner, colleague “Don’t do that” or “Don’t put that there” instead of “Put the X on the Y please” i.e. direct instruction?

It’s the same in our public domain. “Don’t walk on the Grass” is far less effective than “Stay on the pavement”. “Don’t leave litter” is less effective than “Take your litter home please”. In each of the counter phrases there’s no suggestion of what we don’t want hence no hint of doing it by mistake.

One of the worst things you can say to someone is “Don’t forget your X” – 9 times out of 10 they will. It’s far more influential and effective to say “Remember your X” or “Take you X with you”.

Postponing a key meeting last week with clients, we focussed on when we could, how it would work (not if) and what would work best. Can you see that with an intention and focus heading towards what we wanted, it made it so much easier for us all to make it happen.

You’ll hear people saying “Don’t do this” and “Don’t put that there” and “Don’t forget X” all the time. My question to you is this. When it’s you asking, before you launch into, “Don’t blah blah” ask yourself “If I ditch the ‘don’t’ – what do I actually really want instead?”. Then, ask for that instead.

Just go to bed

Decide what works for YOU then, politely and firmly go and do it.

Have you ever said “Yes OK” when you know you mean “No way”? Well, I know I have and now, I rarely do.

Listening to a group of experienced, profe ssional and successful women recently, the discussion was around how to go off to bed, go off and exercise, go off and be quiet, go off and sleep when you want to when you’re away on business. If you’re out either socialising or out at a work-related engagement, the question was how to manage your time and energy with other people pulling you in a direction and telling you what you ‘should’ do.

If this sounds familiar to you well firstly, you’re not alone and secondly you owe it to yourself and your precious life energy to learn how to decide what works best for you and then politely, assertively tell others that’s what’s happening. Not apologising or squirming in any way. Just assertively put a boundary around the time you need using your energy and a few key words.

You may be someone who is always up for one more drink, one more conversation, another game of cards, one more – whatever. That’s great and I really admire it, on one level. I find though, I get to a stage, especially when I’m travelling away from home, when I need to go off. Enough is enough and I’m ready for bed, for a rest, for a swim, to make a call, to be quiet.

I’m sure you know what I mean and then there’s the pull from others.

    • “Oh come on, stay and have another X” or
    • “Don’t be a party pooper, let’s go and have a Y” or – worse –
    • “Oh you’re so boring, we’re just getting going and you’ll miss all the fun”

Well, I know and use a few choice words, an energetic stance and then you can quietly – and assertively – go. I do.

Try these on for size if you imagine being at a conference, an event, a party and you’re told you must stay when you know it’s time to go:

    • “Thank you so much ‘person’s name’, I know you’ll have a brilliant time and I’m off to m y bed so I can be on the ball in the morning. Have a great time” as you start to move, hold your hand out, smile and then, literally go.
    • “You have a drink for me ‘person’s name’ and I’m going to go for a swim now so we can enjoy dinner together this evening. See you at the bar at 7pmas you pack up your things, stand up and start to head away intentionally.
    • “I’d love to and thanks for asking me – I’m going to make a few calls first and then I may join you later”as you smile and move without apologising or feeling awkward.

What’s interesting in moments like these is how much better you feel being firm about what you want or need and not being told what you’ll do. You’ll also often find others wish they’d said the same thing as you but felt compelled to go along instead.

As a professional woman who knows building relationships is a key part of your success, yo u also need to know what you need. If it’s peace, space, rest, sleep then, it’s yours for the taking.

Going the extra mile when all you want it quiet is self-defeating and sometimes, as Walt Disney said “you have to leave them wanting more”.

 

Be More Presumptuous (and get more done and off your plate)

“So, when will be a good time to start that?” “When you’re ready to get going, call me and I’ll help.” “ When will you be emptying the dishwasher?” “When this is ready to go then I’ll do XYZ….”

Can you hear how presumptuous I’m being? How I’m assuming things are going to happen, how I’m asking ‘When’ instead of ‘Have’ and I’m assuming that things will be happening rather than wondering. I’m presuming things which is a very subtle and very effective way of asking for what you want as if it’s already happening.

You’re coming at your requests, questions, enquiries from certainty rather than possibility that that is a very powerful stance to take. It has the effect of by-passing the if something is going to happen and going straight to the place of it happening but without doubt.

Now when I speak about this subject to groups of women at workshops or events, the session is called Be More Presumptuous For Quicker Results and here’s why – it circumnavigates doubt and goes straight for decision.

Let me explain.

As women, we’re often more concerned in people pleasing and being liked than we are with actually implementing. Now you know I’m not saying you ride roughshod over people to get things done, of course not – I’m a true advocate of relationship building and of give and take – what I am saying though is that instead of leaving wiggle room you go straight for the energy of ‘this is happening already’. It makes you more assertive and it’s a natural way of asking for what you want which is always my intention for you to sparkle at work by being true to yourself. And being intentional, certain and committed at the same time.

When I studied NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming – the language of the brain and our way of experiencing the world through the patterns we learn – as it says in the brilliant introductory book NLP for Dummies, NLP enables you to understand what makes you tick, how you think, how you feel, how you make sense of everyday life in the world around you.  How you can also use it to make sense of how others tick, think, feel which is where ‘Presuppositions’ – pre-supposing things as if they’re already happening – is taught as an NLP strategy.

When you presuppose something, when you presume something is already happening and you use your language to convey it and what happens is you start to move that person in their head.

If you consider how you ask for what you want as if it’s already happening and by-pass the doubt, you tell the other person what you want without being too confronting and this is where it’s easier to say yes to you….

Here are some presumptuous questions for you which tell people what you want to have happen as if it’s already happening:

  • “What is the best time for you to deliver this to me on Friday?” the only question is what’s the time on Friday – not will you ie no doubt.
  • When will that opportunity be offered to me?” – not will that opportunity be offered to me, it’s just a question of when.
  • Where do you want me to sign this off when you’ve finished it on Thursday?” – it suggests it will be finished on Thursday and the only question is where do you want me sign it when you have.
  • Who else will you tell about this when you’ve come back from this trip?” – it’s not a question of whether you’ll tell anyone else It’s a question of Who – it assumes you will and only asks who.

You can hear in each of those questions a presumption, can’t you?  They presuppose something’s going to happen. The person imagines it happening before they realise it.

That’s the point. That’s the sparkly, magical piece. You have to imagine it happening too so when you ask questions in this presupposing way, other people have to imagine it happening or having happened too.  Abracadabra.

Are You “Should-ing” All Over Everyone?

3 Easy Ways for People to Take On Your Advice

“Now, what you should do is…”  “Well, it’s obvious, you should do this, then you should do that and then you should tell them you’ve done it”.

Should do.  What you should do and what you want to and actually do are often very different things.  Even if the advice we’ve been given is spot on, the fact that we’ve been told we ‘should’ do it is often the very reason we don’t follow it or take it on.  So if that’s the reaction we have, it’s the reaction that others will have when we ‘should’ all over them.  Hmmm.

There’s something innately irritating to be told we should be doing something.  It implies – this is the subtle, savvy part to understand – it implies that we’re not doing something right and that the other person is wiser that we are.  It’s implicit that we’ve missed a trick and they haven’t.  That they know better exactly what will work for us. Grrrrr.  That’s the feeling that so often comes up.  Well, in reality, we know best – better than anyone – what works for us and as we all know, making a decision ourselves and then sticking to it is always more powerful than carrying out other people’s advice.  We own the outcome and, as such, are responsible for the result. (Or, in this case, response-able).

One of the big pieces of being an influential business woman at work is putting across your ideas, suggestions, or advice and letting the other person decide for themselves how, and/or if, it will work for them.  It then becomes their decision, their action.  This principle applies just as effectively, if not more so, at home with our families and friends!  How many times have you said “Oh, you should just say..” at home and been met with a bored or stoney face?

So, how do you get across your idea, suggestion, advice without ‘shoulding’ all over people by saying “what you should do is” or “I think you should…”?

Here are 3 quick and easy ways which work, for you to try out:

  1. Start with “I’ve got an idea for you..” – this way you’re putting out that it’s only an idea and it’s for you to contemplate and understand if and how it will work.  By saying “I’ve got” you’re telling the other person “OK, I’m ready with something that I think you’ll want but it’s up to you what you do with it”.
  2. Say “Can I make a suggestion here?” – again, you’re putting across that you have something to offer and you want to get their buy-in before you just throw it at them.  9 times out of 10, if you’ve read the situation and your relationship correctly, the other person will say “yes please”. 

  3. Think aloud – “hmmm, that’s tricky, now I wonder if…” – you can hear (and feel) that you’re firstly empathising that they have an issue or something tricky going on ie, they’re not an idiot – and saying “I wonder if” is a pensive, non-confrontational way of offering your thought or suggestion.

As with all of the 3 ideas above, avoiding the ‘should’ word once you start with these phrases is crucial.  Remember, by offering your thoughts in a less fixed way, you leave the other person open to taking on what you think but without your judgement (intentional or otherwise) behind it.

So, can I make a suggestion here? Try these phrases on for size the next time you feel yourself about to say “well, you should” or “oh, it’s obvious, what you should do is…” You’ll notice the difference in how easily the other person’s take on what you think and if they ignore you then at least they know you contributed your thoughts. Just like Snowy, my husband does, when it comes to my cooking – they have two choices. Take it. Or leave it. I bet they’ll take it more often than not!

How’s Your Pillow Talk?

Engage as you explain

It’s so easy to lose your message, your audience, their attention, their trust by using ‘weasel’ words. By using ‘gobbledeegook’ if you will – and it’s everywhere, like an epidemic.

With the pace of information being shared, the cultures which must be crossed and included in our messages, and the turbulent times we’re navigating at the moment, the need to be as clear as possible is more vital than ever.

Think about it for a moment. When did you last say to your partner, as you were either in bed or getting ready for bed “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there”? Well, I put it to you, in general, most partners would cross their eyes, turn over and wonder what language you’re suddenly speaking.

To use a lot of ‘corporate’ lingo, especially in times when people are concerned about what’s really going on, is a recipe for confusion, mistrust and – often – for being ignored. It’s ironic really, people tend to use this sort of language to try to sound more knowledgeable, more ‘clever’ if you will. The opposite happens though. People tune out, think about something else entirely, resent you for confusing them or making them feel ‘dumb’ – or are so busy trying to translate what’s being said they miss your point anyway.

Clapping Peeps

It’s a great way to translate some of the corporate gobbledegook you come across by asking yourself “What would I say to my partner/husband/wife about this?”

What you’ll find is that you naturally choose other words, more accessible, more everyday words. Try a bit of “Pillow Talk” with your team, with your marketing, when you’re making presentations or proposals.

You’ll be heard more easily and people will trust you and thank you for it.

3 ‘Quick & Dirty’ examples for you:

  1. “we’re struggling to get our key performance indicators aligned so we can leverage all the strategic opportunities out there” becomes “we’ve got to get everyone meeting their targets so we can make the best of what’s happening in the market”
  2. “by the end of the next quarter the upsurge in uptake will maximise our position” becomes “with all these buyers, by the end of December we should be in a great position”
  3. “so to keep optimising the market diffusion we must keep thinking outside of the box to leverage this” becomes “hey, there’s a lot activity in our market, let’s keep our minds open and meet as often as we can to make the most of it”

Sometimes, we all have to use the ‘gobbledeegook’ or the Corporate-sounding name of something or expressions being used around us. It’s a big part of being heard. I worked on a project in my own corporate career called GROPE. Enough said for a confusing, mixed message-style name which no one really understood!

So make sure you talk about it – you know you’re valuable and have value to add – well, talk truly is valuable too. If you choose.

What you can do as well to make sure you’re understood at the same time is to use these 3 simple and subtle expressions to make sure the point gets across and translates the ‘blah’ language into your Pillow Talk:

  1. “and by that I mean….”
  2. “or in other words….”
  3. “but you could also say …..”

They’re simple, savvy, subtle and they work.

5 Ps to Position And Own Your Value

Attract People, Business and Opportunity To You

When push-comes-to-shove, it’s a word few people are able to actually define. The word ‘positioning’ is one we hear a lot. When push-comes-to-shove, few people really are able to actually define.  I define positioning, in everyday language, as putting things in the right place for people.  In a place useful for them and, at the same time, is useful and helpful for you.   

If you think about positioning a picture at home, for example, you’re placing it where it’s accessible and can be seen, it looks good in the light and yet it fits with the décor of the room.  You think about the angles and you position it accordingly.  Positioning your skills, what they do and your value, it’s the same principle.

People need to understand what you’re going to be able to do for them,find a use for it in their world (not just in yours) and these 7 P words which will make positioning yourself, your skills and your value easy for you:

  1. Partner – your thinking comes from the angle of partnering with your client, your colleague, your boss.  How you can help and support them with what they’re trying to achieve.  An easy question to ask to get this clear for yourself is ‘what’s your biggest challenge at the moment?’  You, as their partner, helping to solve or master this immediately positions you as someone on their side and not just someone ‘out to get ahead’.  Using words like ‘we, together, our, your’ positions you in a partnership role and using their language, their abbreviations, their interests as examples, you become their partner.  Subtle and simple.
  2. Powers ­– from the word go, you’ve thought about your own particular skill set.  Of course you have.  What it is you do naturally and easily and you’ve asked other people about it – literally, that question.  ‘What is it that I seem to do naturally and easily?’ and then you own those skills.  They’re part of your power.  Your ‘Jedi skills’ if you will.  Once you’ve jotted down some of your natural skills you then make them super-powerful.  Look at those skills and ask yourself ‘What do those skills do for other people?’  For example a skill is “I’m great with numbers”.  Well, whoopy do. What does that do?  Positioning that as valuable is being able to then say, for example “I can see angles where clients are losing money and help them stop it and save thousands per month.”   Same thing, good with numbers, huge difference in positioning the value
  3. Possible – if you’re positioning your skills, always come from the angle of what’s possible.  Not, as so many people do, what’s impossible.  “Well, I can do XYZ but I can’t do ABC” or “well I only learnt that recently so I can’t do it very well”. Of course you don’t over blow what you can do but what you do is really hone in and focus on what you can do and – if you’ve got gaps – focus on what you can do about them  “and I can learn that” or “and we can immediately bring in someone to fix that” – always angling your nose to the ‘what’s possible’ with what you’re offering, what you’re able to do.  Let people ask you questions, avoid laying it all out there with your fears about your gaps.  You can fill them or find out how to.
  4. Poise –  that quiet, inner composure that gives people a sense of you without you ‘hosing them down’ with facts, compliments and information.  It’s something we all strive for at times.  When you’re seeking to attract business, clients, an employer – to make an impression, to be remembered and understood and to do it in a way that means you’re engaging too, is to hold yourself upright, to offer a firm handshake, to smile and connect and, at the same time, know that if what you’re offering isn’t a fit in this instance, it will be somewhere else.  That inner composure, inner resolve gives you poise.  Just like in the dating game, the subtle dance isn’t about being proposed to on the first date, it’s more about a drink, a chat and then deciding if you both want to have dinner…. 
  5. Present – listen and keep listening, bounce back what you’ve heard, question what you’ve heard in a curious way. Stay present.  That voice – the one we all have – that’s saying things like “oh, what are you going to say now?” or “whoopee, I can fix that” – a powerful way you can quieten that voice is by repeating exactly what the person is saying to you in your head.  What you find is you have to stay present with them. As you do you’ll naturally find out what they want, what they’re struggling with and what it is you can do about it.  If it makes sense, you’re then able to comfortably fit your own skills, thoughts, offer right in. Rather than racing off to ‘fix’, you stay in their world –  so rather than ‘pick me, pick me’ it becomes more ‘hmm, I hear you, I think we could come up wi th something together.  How about….’ 

If you use that word ‘position’ as you prepare for your meetings, interviews, presentations you’ll always be more valuable and interesting than the ‘gung-ho’, seat-of-my-pants kind of person who goes in thinking all about what they want, what’s going on with them and ‘what’s in it for me?’ and tries to ram that home.  Good luck!

John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School and prolific author, says it perfectly (another P word): “Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning.  They understand the people they’re trying to reach and what they can and can’t hear.  They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall.”  That’s my position too; over to you for yours now.

Are You “Should-ing” All Over Everyone?

3 Easy Ways for People to Take On Your Advice

“Now, what you should do is…”  “Well, it’s obvious, you should do this, then you should do that and then you should tell them you’ve done it”.

Should do.  What you should do and what you want to and actually do are often very different things.  Even if the advice we’ve been given is spot on, the fact that we’ve been told we ‘should’ do it is often the very reason we don’t follow it or take it on.  So if that’s the reaction we have, it’s the reaction that others will have when we ‘should’ all over them.  Hmmm.

There’s something innately irritating to be told we should be doing something.  It implies – this is the subtle, savvy part to understand – it implies that we’re not doing something and that the other person is wiser that we are.  It’s implicit that we’ve missed a trick and they haven’t.  That they know better exactly what will work for us. Grrrrr.  That’s the feeling that so often comes up.  Well, in reality, we know best – better than anyone – what works for us and as we all know, making a decision ourselves and then sticking to it is always more powerful than carrying out other people’s advice.  We own the outcome and, as such, are responsible for the result. (Or, in this case, response-able).

One of the big pieces of being an influential communicator as you work is putting across your ideas, suggestions, or advice and letting the other person decide for themselves how, and/or if, it will work for them.  It then becomes their decision, their action.  This principle applies just as effectively, if not more so, at home with our families and friends!  How many times have you said “Oh, you should just say..” at home and been met with a bored or stoney face?

So, how do you get across your idea, suggestion, advice without ‘shoulding’ all over people by saying “what you should do is” or “I think you should…”?

Here are 3 quick and easy ways which work, for you to try out:

  1. Start with “I’ve got an idea for you..” – this way you’re putting out that it’s only an idea and it’s for you to contemplate and understand if and how it will work.  By saying “I’ve got” you’re telling the other person “OK, I’m ready with something that I think you’ll want but it’s up to you what you do with it”.
  2. Say “Can I make a suggestion here?” – again, you’re putting across that you have something to offer and you want to get their buy-in before you just throw it at them.  9 times out of 10, if you’ve read the situation and your relationship correctly, the other person will say “yes please”. 
  3. Think aloud – “hmmm, that’s tricky, now I wonder if…” – you can hear (and feel) that you’re firstly empathising that they have an issue or something tricky going on ie, they’re not an idiot – and saying “I wonder if” is a pensive, non-confrontational way of offering your thought or suggestion.

As with all of the 3 ideas above, avoiding the ‘should’ word once you start with these phrases is crucial.  Remember, by offering your thoughts in a less fixed way, you leave the other person open to taking on what you think but without your judgement (intentional or otherwise) behind it.

So, can I make a suggestion here? Try these phrases on for size the next time you feel yourself about to say “well, you should” or “oh, it’s obvious, what you should do is…” You’ll notice the difference in how easily the other person/s take on what you think and if they ignore you then at least they know you contributed your thoughts. Just like Snowy, my husband does, when it comes to my cooking – they have two choices. Take it. Or leave it. I bet they’ll take it more often than not!