All of us must learn to influence others. Whether persuading your child to eat broccoli or supervising a team, the ability to influence is important to working with others.
In those situations, do you see the other person as an adversary? Do you resort to manipulation or coercion to try to get what you want? Or do you understand how to influence and win that person over?
The World’s Greatest Influencers
The greatest influencers are not manipulators. They aren’t pushy. They don’t create animosity. Instead, they seem to win people naturally, effortlessly, making everyone happy with the outcome.
How they do it is the subject of this post.
Bob Burg is a speaker, a blogger, and a best selling author. He’s perhaps best known from his many stage appearances as a speaker for large organizations. You may also know him by his runaway best selling book, The Go-Giver. I have read all of his books and learned from all of his work.
His latest book is Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion. It’s one of those books that you cannot stop reading. I have dog-eared and underlined so much of the book that he likely wouldn’t recognize it if he saw my copy.
There are so many lessons in this book, which reads like a modern day version of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. Reading it, I realized that there are dozens of questions to ask Bob. I chose to focus on the five principles of ultimate influence shared throughout the book.
1. Control your own emotions
Bob, I want to ask you a question about each of your five principles to influence and move people to a different thought or action.
The first is to control your own emotions. Why is controlling your emotions the very first step and why is it harder for some people than others?
Skip, as human beings we are emotional creatures. Sure, in certain ways we are logical, but we are basically driven by our emotions. That’s often very counterproductive. The problem isn’t that we have emotions (emotions are a wonderful part of life), it’s being “controlled by our emotions.” When this is the case we are simply not in a position to think clearly, to think logically and be able to take a negative situation or person and elicit a positive outcome. When we are in control of ourselves and of our emotions, the opposite is true.
For example: If a person says or does something you find offensive, it’s important that you be in control of your emotions and – as Zig Ziglar taught – “respond” rather than “react.” When you react, you are allowing that person (and your emotions) to control you; when you respond, you are in control of yourself and your emotions and are now ready to create an environment for a winning result for everyone involved.
2. Understand the clash of belief systems
Your second principle is to understand the clash of belief systems. This one may not be as intuitive so please tell me more about it.
A belief is a subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s “the truth” (though we are usually certain it is). While our belief systems are a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture, societal mores, etc., it is pretty much formed by the time we’re six or seven years old. Some of these beliefs work for us, are productive and helpful, and keep us safe. Most are counterproductive and serve no constructive purpose.
So, we are pretty much controlled by a belief system we are not even aware we possess. Add on top of that, the person with whom we’re about to have a difficult interpersonal transaction is also controlled by a belief system that they are not even aware they possess. Now add to the mix that as human beings we tend to believe that others think as we think, and you’ve got the makings of a huge clash of belief systems.
We don’t need to understand their belief system; what we do need to understand is that their belief system is most likely much different from ours. Only when we consciously understand that are we in a position to proceed in a way that a mutually beneficial result can occur.
3. Acknowledge their ego
The third principle is to acknowledge their ego. You say that the “ego is the ultimate driving force in everything people do.” Give me an example of how to acknowledge ego in a legitimate way with sincerity.
The ego is the “I” and is our sense of ourselves as a unique individual. As with our emotions, when we are in control of our ego, that’s a positive and we can accomplish great things. When our ego controls us, that’s when it gets dangerous. And, it’s the same with the other person.
When I say “acknowledge their ego,” I don’t mean by telling them that they are acting out of ego. That would have the exact opposite effect! I mean simply acknowledging to yourself that if they are acting in a way that is rude, difficult or in any way counterproductive to even their own best interests, it’s most likely their ego taking over.
Acknowledge this, and know that if you want this person to act appropriately, you must speak to them in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, about you and about the situation. That is the only way you will attain the results you want. The good news is that this is actually very easy to do once you understand how.
4. Set the proper frame
Number four is to set the proper frame. You define a frame as “the premise or foundation from which everything else in your interpersonal transactions takes place.” How can framing change your life?
When you set a positive frame – for example, one of friendliness, cooperation, win/win, etc. – then everything that naturally flows from this frame will also be positive. Of course, if you set a negative frame, everything that naturally flows from that frame will be negative. Setting the proper frame is as simple as a smile or attitude. Very simple.
What’s also important, however, is to be able to “re-set” the other person’s frame when they enter the transaction with a negative frame. The good news is that by simply adjusting your attitude, you can very quickly re-set their frame.
To do this, first, control your own emotions. Respond instead of react. Understand that there are different belief systems at work and they are doing what they do only because of their beliefs. And, acknowledge that they are controlled by their ego and that you must act accordingly. Once you learn how to re-set frames, you’re nine steps ahead of the game…in a ten-step game.
5. Communicate with tact and empathy
Finally, number five is to communicate with tact and empathy. We’ve all cringed at a dinner when someone complains to the wait staff in a condescending manner. What tactics or examples can you share about communicating with tact and empathy?
As my Dad has always said, “Tact is the language of strength.” I find tact to be a way of speaking and communicating with a person in such a way that when we need to correct or teach (and that’s part of the real world) we can do so in a way that rather than eliciting defensiveness and resistance, the person is open, both to us and to our ideas. Speak to them in such a way that their ego cannot possibly be offended. Empathy, the vicarious experiencing of another person’s feelings will help you to do that.
For example, when turning down an offer to involve yourself in a joint venture project, you might say, “Debbie, thank you so much for asking. While it’s not something I’d like to pursue, please know how honored I am to be asked.”
One bonus question. Bob, you speak all over the world. Four of your books, including The Go-Giver and Endless Referrals have combined to sell over a million copies. Every time I watch an interview or speech of yours, you are energized. What do you do to maintain that energy level before every appearance?
Thank you for that very nice compliment. One reason is that—because my life’s mission is to share this information—I stay naturally excited about it. Also, while I constantly speak about this subject, it might be the listeners’ first time hearing it, and they deserve to receive the full benefit. One more important thing: even those times when you’re feeling bad physically or just having a lousy day, the client, the customer, the listener, etc. deserves your very best performance. So, as a pro, you go out there and “do the thing” whether you feel like it or not. Fortunately, for me…I usually feel like it.
Thank you, Skip. It’s been an honor!Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion