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There are times when people are convinced that they are right as they try to persuade you on some point. So they talk, talk, talk hoping to influence you. Eventually you become bored to death and tune them out.
What is it with people who “keep boring” in their persistent quest to get their message across? They are
1. Very smart and see solutions long before others do.
Case: He was the smartest person in the company and well on his way to a CEO position. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the top. He talked too much in meetings and cut off people who had different opinions. He was told by his bosses “Learn to collaborate or don’t get promoted!”
2. Not attuned to the emotions of others.
Case: The world of feelings was not his strong suit. He was so in his head that he could not track with other’s feelings. Body language could have been Chinese to him. As a result he could not read the needs of his group.
3. So self-absorbed.
Case: He had difficulty putting himself in the shoes of others. He was all about “Me, me, me.” At first people were fooled that he was concerned about them. But he wanted an audience not partners. As they got his number they became less and less collaborative.
How Not to Drill Dry Wells
Years ago I lost money investing in a dry oil-well. That may be the cost of making risky investments in the oil industry but we cannot afford that level of risk in influencing others.
Here are ways to effectively get our message across.
- Take the temperature of your audience
Find ways to see how receptive the audience is to your ideas. You may want to present your ideas as a hypothesis to be tested. This takes some practice and a lot of humility
2. Don’t speak until at least five other people have spoken.
A friend of mine uses this trick and it has helped considerably in her reading of the others. You may be right on a subject but let others have their small victories.
3. Stop and check for understanding.
This may involve simply summarizing the other’s perspective (their essential ideas) or paraphrasing it (your read on their ideas).
4. Have at least one devil’s advocate in the audience.
We all need at least one thoughtful contrarian to keep us on track. Such diversity is worth its weight in gold.
5. Use the “yes-and” response rather that the “yes-but”.
Building on the ideas of others rather than shooting them down is (excuse the pun) a sure-fire way to validate them. It also encourages participation.
A “Yes-and” response is a way to make others look good by validating their ideas.
We all need to make our message more accessible to our audience. Without dumbing down our ideas we have to learn that
Effective communication only happens when people embrace our ideas and feel the power of their contribution.
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