As you read this I will be opening Day 3 of a 5 Day training run across 4 states for The Lott – and it’s complete focus is anchored in the ability to influence and persuade.
This is stage two of Sales Training delivered six months ago and has been deliberately designed to build the skills of influence and persuasion.
What I love about the skills needed to influence and persuade is that they are simplicity personified; and rather than an endless quest to perfect, the game of influence and persuasion is an endless exploration driven by our fascination of the world that surrounds us.
It is ever-shifting. Yet 5 core elements underpin every single person’s ability to influence – and I think it is time I shared them with you here.
1. Put Active Listening on Steroids
We ALL talk about Active Listening – which is ironic in its own right :). But what is it really? It is being completely present to the person you are in conversation with. It is taking the active listening rituals we currently use and putting them on steroids. It is completely removing the voice in your head that is waiting for your chance to speak, working out the best next tactical move, telling you how ridiculous what they are saying is. It is quietening the voices inside your head which insist on your world view.
What is astonishing is that an exercise I have used in training communication and influence for the last eight years shows us that despite our level of awareness that active listening is critical, we are in fact getting worse at it. An exercise which requires total silence, a focus on the person in front of you, and noticing whenever your own thoughts (voice) enter your mind would previously run very comfortably for 5-7 minutes. Now that same exercise runs for just two minutes – and you know why? Because we struggle to quieten the voices in our head for that amount of time AND in actual fact most teams can’t even stay (outwardly) silent for the 2 minutes.
2. Develop an Insane Level of Curiosity
Influence and persuasion does not start with you. It starts with the other person(s). It is about getting to understand their world, their way of thinking, and to do so without judgement. Influence, persuasion – even negotiation – is a process of discovery, of uncovering information that will enable you to shift a conversation to where you want to take it; of persuading someone to take specific action; of shifting negotiation to rapidly locking down agreements that work for everyone.
You must become a Question-Master. In our Speaker Training we ask endless questions to get crystal clear about what matters to our audience; our ability to Influence and Persuade is predicated by our ability to bring great questions into play. To push past generalisations, prejudice, bias and resistance to uncover the specific desires, motivators, and key information.
3. Build the Muscle of Language
All language has a sense to it; the words we use, how we pull them together in phrases, how we shape them into piercing questions, the ways in which we subtly shift direction. And no matter who you are in what realm, if you are not building your awareness and conscious use of the most powerful weapon we have – language – then your ability to influence will always be limited. You are unconsciously setting yourself up to experience frustration, disappointment and even a sense of failure for which you can not quite explain.
In every single SpeakableYOU Intensives room every single one of our students are astounded that charisma has nothing to do with how we look and show up, and everything to do with language; that it is a strategy and that anyone can learn it.
4. Be Crystal Clear on Your End Game and Ditch the Agenda
A Crystal Clear End Game appears in our world in so many different ways; it can be what you don’t want, what you won’t accept, a strong bottom line that you won’t shift below as well as knowing the outcome you want, what that looks like, and how it will ideally play out. A well-formed end-game is the only thing you need to go into any situation where the ability to influence and persuade, and negotiate, is essential to shifting the people surrounding you in a specific direction.
But so often in preparation we are scripting, setting a full agenda for what needs to follow what, the steps we need to see along the way, and completely eliminating our opportunity to uncover the specific information we need that will ensure we are able to adeptly step through points of resistance and side-step breakdown.
And when we run to a script we run the greatest risk of all; not recognising when the person sitting in front of us is NOT who we want as a client, in our business, in our world, or part of any future solution.
5. Have Every Conversation with Volition
Volition means on purpose, with will, deliberately – and in your working world (and often your personal world but that is a whole other conversation) almost every conversation should be on purpose. Know your end game and ditch the agenda before you walk into any conversation. Ensure you always close a conversation with the next step clearly identified – keep it simple and go for the Best Next Step no matter how small or large. Before you are going into conversations where you need to position, pitch, persuade, or win, do the preparation first, take a breath, ditch the agenda, and be completely present.
You will be exhilarated by the results.