by Bryan Heathman
Have you ever been cornered into buying something you didn’t really want? If you’re like most people, you’ve stocked your cupboards with more than your fair share of Girl Scout Cookies and other non-essentials sold door to door by smiling, big-eyed neighbor kids. It’s almost impossible to resist.
Time and again, people in cultures around the world have exhibited certain predictable responses to everyday situations. In fact, you see it everywhere. Because of these common reactions, it’s possible to predict behavior and influence people to adopt a specific point of view.
Unfortunately our common reactions make it possible for us to be manipulated by the unscrupulous – or simply the big-eyed cookie vendor. Politicians, salespeople, network marketers, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends and family all have a stake in getting us to agree to their requests.
However, there is much to be mined here for the sake of effectiveness on the job.
If you find yourself in a Leadership role, you can gain from the gentle art of persuasion and take a cue from these common responses. You can apply the concept to Leadership for consistent results that look good on you – and your business. With the right approach, you can turn the tables and start getting the results you want.
Navigating the 7 C’s
There are 7 essentials for effective Leadership that you can apply to your projects or your organization starting today. They all happen to start with the letter “C”. In no particular order, here they are.
Care – Influence of any kind requires rapport. This means you have to care to some degree about the people you want to influence. What do you have to offer that will benefit them? What’s their greatest pain? What are their aspirations? Remember that people are most responsive to those who are interested in them and share common values.
The famous landmark book by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends and Influence People, can be summed up in two words: genuine interest. You can use your voice and body language to demonstrate your sincere enthusiasm, and make eye contact to get full engagement.
Communicate with Questions – Listen first. Communication is an interchange of information – a two-way street. Getting your message across depends on hearing and responding to the other person’s point of view. Learn from your interactions with them. Ask questions. Care about their responses, and express your expectations clearly.
Listening isn’t merely a matter of waiting for your turn to speak. Don’t wait quietly then jump in to tell your story. Make sure you ask questions and thoroughly understand their point of view. Be careful in your responses so your conversation doesn’t appear to be a verbal competition. Let it be cooperative.
Clarify – Not only do you want to get clear on your own your core values, but you also want to get clear on what people are communicating to you. A psychologist named Carl Rogers perfected a process called Reflective Listening back in the 50’s (click here for an overview on Wikipedia). When you ask clarifying questions, this will show up in your “music” – the things you say and the way you say them. When you’re clear on your own position, it’s much easier to persuade others to your point of view.
Consider – If the other person has a different perspective, find out more about why they have that point of view. The more you consider the reasons behind their thinking, the more you can understand them or perhaps help them to better understand your point of view. Weigh all sides of the question, and take the full picture into consideration.
Competence – Understand the details of the process that you and your team are pursuing. Enjoy at least a top line level of knowledge about the steps involved in completing your objective. When you do, it will be easier to understand the needs of the people you’re leading. Bringing in the project according to your objectives will be a breeze.
Consistency – Research shows that we have an in-born desire to be and to appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision, we feel pressure to act consistently with that commitment. Once a commitment is made, we tend to table the topic and consider the matter settled.
Back in 1998, a Chicago restaurant was plagued with last minute reservation cancellations. But when they started asking customers for a commitment in the form of a question – “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” – the no-show rate fell from 30% to 10%. To be effective as a Leader, ask your people if they will commit, and wait for their response. Require their consistency. Likewise, be consistent with your own commitments, and you’ll lead your people by example.
Completion – Personal accountability from yourself as well as your team will mean the difference between success and failure. Complete your objectives, and follow through. Don’t allow the agenda to change week by week.
Do you hold people individually responsible for meeting company objectives? When your people fail, as we all do from time to time, do you hold them responsible for sharing the benefit of their hard-won wisdom with the group? Have you created a culture that values personal accountability as a tool? Are you rewarding people for taking personal ownership for big-picture results?
To be an effective leader, it’s essential to stay in touch with the people you’re leading. It’s starts with caring about them and your mission. It takes involvement with them through the unfolding process and seeing it through to the end.
It means choosing activities and objectives that are worthwhile – appropriate for you, your values and dreams. Otherwise you might as well be selling non-essentials door-to-door. Those jobs are already filled by worthy, big-eyed 6-year-olds. You wouldn’t want to compete with the Girl Scouts, would you? No, of course not.
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success. He works with bestselling authors such as Zig Ziglar, Donald Trump and John C. Maxwell in the role of publisher, rainmaker and marketer. Bryan is author ofConversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into paying customers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes working for Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.