There is formula for changing people. Doctor Malik Mohammed shared this wisdom with the EO Global Leadership Academy last week in Washington, USA. If you are to change someone’s behaviour patterns, two things are necessary.
This video is about Building Trust – and how building Trust will Improve Relationships and the Enhance the Quality of our Lives. After you have food and shelter, it is the quality of the relationships that really make your life. Relationships are about trust. Where there is no trust, there is no relationship.
In Rationalia, all decisions are taken because scientific data is collected and the evidence supports the law. If you want to change a law, you suggest an experiment. If the experiment produces evidence that the new law improves the conditions of Rationalia, then the law is passed.
In this land, reason wins.
This is not a country that we are living in now.
This post is not going to get into the pros and cons of the nation of Rationalia.
How Do Politicians try to Change our Minds?
If I listen to political debate (Trump vs Hillary, UK Labour party, Brexit referendum) I do not hear rational arguments being put forward for a range of proposed policies.
I hear arguments that go to credibility (or Ethos, for those followers of Aristotle amongst you):
“You can’t trust her”,
“She doesn’t have the energy”,
“It was just locker-room banter”,
“He says it does not represent who he is, but I think we all know that it really does represent exactly who he is”
There is nothing here about policies. There is nothing here about the danger of the other’s flawed policies. There is only raising of my trustworthiness and decreasing of the other’s trustworthiness.
Why has Reason disappeared from political debate?
I understand this shift. I see three big reasons:
People hold a wider range of beliefs
more sources and types of data and
more channels for experts to spread their views.
There has been such a broadening of accepted beliefs over the last half-century that there are few value systems that can be assumed to apply to the whole electorate. There are few symbols that represent the same value to the whole electorate. There are few bases for logical argument that starts from a widely held truth.
There is much more data, in many more forms (graphics, reports, video, analyst reports…), there are many more experts, there are many more sources for information. The experts come at us through new channels – online, cable, satellite, podcasts, blogs, facebook, twitter…
It is confusing.
What do we do when we are Confused?
In this environment we seek voices we can trust. (Check out The Trust Equation for an in-depth analysis of the 4 components of trust in relationships)
It is only a trusted voice that can open our eyes to a new perspective.
If you want to persuade someone, build a relationship. If there is no relationship, there is little chance of persuasion.
We only really change our minds when a trusted friend who knows us finally asks a question in a private conversation “Hey, why is that so important to you? What effect do you think it is having on your life? on those around you?…”
Who are your trusted friends? Who do you allow to have influence on you?
Sales is not about describing your product, your process or your friends. It is about explaining to the buyer a problem that they have, and giving them a glimpse of a world where that problem has gone away.
What would it feel like to live in a world where that problem has gone away? What would it feel like to have your boss think you are a top performer? What would it feel like to have your kids proud of you? What would it feel like to see your body looking fit? What would it feel like to take your t-shirt off at the beach with pride?
What is your painful problem to solve?
By the way, you don’t get to talk to someone about their problem until you have a relationship of trust with that person. You can’t just dive in and say “we’ll make your pain go away!”. You have to begin a relationship of trust.
The best first step? Generosity. What can you give this person that they need? Often, it is your undivided, non-judgemental listening to what they have to say. Make them feel like they truly exist for you.
Toastmasters is a wonderful organisation for anybody who wishes to improve their ability to speak with impact.
However, there is something that has often challenged me with the “best” toastmaster speeches. They are very clearly the work of someone who has worked very, very, very hard on the words, gestures and voice that they use to deliver the speech. The “best” toastmaster speeches verge on the theatric and sometimes leave behind a sense of a natural conversation. Toastmasters evaluations can focus on bringing attention to symbols of hard work on the art of public speaking – big gestures, long pauses, wide ranges of volume, tone and pace in voice.
Why hide the art? Why would you want to go to the effort to hide the work you have done on being a great speaker?
Sims refers to a number of great political orators of the Athenian state. They knew that if the people saw them as relaxed and natural, they would be more open to listen to their ideas. If the people saw how much they worked on their ability to speak, the people would be worried about being manipulated by them.
It is a paradox – being visibly “too good” makes you less likely to connect and persuade.
Hiding the art does not mean that you intentionally are a poor speaker. It means what Bruce Lee refers to as Natural Un-Naturalness (see final paragraphs of post).
“The natural instinct and control need to be combined in harmony – one to the extreme you become very unscientific, the other you become a mechanical man… no longer a human being – the ideal is unnatural naturalness, or natural unnaturalness… yin yang” Bruce Lee
The swan swims gracefully over the water of the pond – only the fish see how hard her little feet are paddling beneath the surface. This is the art of great speaking. The art is to go through theatrical and get back to looking authentic, human and natural.
Moving people to action requires that you go beyond the level of preparation that allows you to deliver an excellent performance and arrive at an ability to hold a peer-to-peer conversation with the audience.
The path to Natural must pass through Contrived
The path to natural unnaturalness must pass through “contrived unnaturalness” – you have to do the work to move through discomfort and expansion of your natural range as a speaker – and Toastmasters is the absolute best path. However, taking your message beyond toastmasters requires integrating the gestures, voice, words back into yourself so that the audience feels like you have not worked so hard. This way they trust the person and listen to the message, rather than are impressed by the person, but distrustful of the message.
Great artists mastered the basics over many, many years before they found the path back to what we might call “authentic” or natural.
I came across this paragraph in a blog post by sales professional Grant Cardone.
“No one buys a $57,000 watch to tell time. People buy things to solve problems. The cost of the item isn’t what matters. Once the buyer is able to see the problem the product solves, their decision becomes much easier to resolve. Get to the “why” and the sale will follow.” Grant Cardone (original article at Entrepreneur magazine)
How do you get someone to buy something that they do not need?
Just as nobody really buys a $57,000 watch to solve the problem of “what time is it”, nobody does an expensive MBA just because they want to know more about business. Nobody hires an expensive consultant just because they need to finish a simple project. Nobody hires an expensive coach just because they need help with discipline.
Cheap watches tell the time. Cheap MBAs teach you about business. Cheap consultants can get projects finished. Cheap coaches can help you with discipline.
A casio watch can be bought for €2.99. It tells the time as well as the $57,000 watch. Why are they different? The casio watch has 8 functions. The $57,000 watch tells the time, and the date. The casio watch allows me to change the time. The $57,000 watch requires a trained technician to move the clock forward an hour.
Why does someone pay the $56,997.01 difference (and get less functionality)?
There is something else we are buying when we buy.
“Bread and Water. Everything else is marketing.” Tony Anagor
I did an interview with Tony Anagor, one of the coaches who works with my Leadership Communications courses at IESE Business School. Tony said “Bread and water. Everything else is marketing.”
What did he mean?
Once I have food and shelter, I can survive. I don’t need anything else to survive. I want other things, but I don’t need them.
If I say “I need friends, I would die without my friends”: it is not literally true. I want friends. They make my life worth living. They add to my life. They are not needs in the way of food and shelter. I wouldn’t value highly a lonely life, without friends.
If I say “I need an iPad. All of my friends have an iPad.”: not true. I really, really want an iPad. However, the reason that I want it is the important thing for a salesman to find. Why do I so need an iPad?
I want it because it might remove the anguish of feeling left out. I want it because it might give me a sense of importance in having an “in-demand” item. I want it because I like playing with new technology. I want it because my friends are playing some online game and I am less connected because I am not involved.
Here are 6 keys to engage the reader when you ask for some help via email:
Indicate the social connection between sender and reader – where did you meet? who put you in contact? “We met at the Foundum Unplugged conference 2 weeks ago”
Understand the readers perspective – what context (background information) does the reader need to take a decision/act upon the email? This is often best provided as a url link to supporting information so as to keep the email body short.
Explain why the reader was specifically selected as a source of potential help. “I am contacting you because you have over 8 years of experience in the industry”
Show that you have already made some effort to understand the domain before asking for help. “I have spoken to X and to Y, I have read Z book.”
Keep it short. Many emails are much too long – the sender has no edit process before sending the “draft” email. (Here’s a nice email policy called three.sentenc.es)
Clarify exactly what is wanted: No effort to clarify what you are asking for. ”Help” is too vague. What do you want the reader to do when they finish reading? “Meet next Monday”; “Call me to set up a site visit”; “Forward the email to John”.
I was watching the UK version of the TV show “The Apprentice” a few months ago. This particular week’s challenge was to sell caravan and camping equipment at a trade show.
Early on, there was a key decision to make: Which model of caravan would the team try to sell?
Now, this was a trade show where the typical attendee was 60 years old and the teams had this information. This was not a show directed to young people, nor was it an audience that would be represented by the word “innovative”. This was people looking for solid, reliable caravans.
The team lead, lets call him Joe, asked for advice from one of his team members, who I will call Tom. Now, Joe has already agreed with the rest of the team that they should choose a proven, well-priced model…
Joe: “So, Tom, what do you think? Should we go for the hip, modern campervan or the older, proven model?”
Tom: “I think we should go for the modern one.” (I am surprised at this advice)
Joe: “Really? I like it a lot more… but… are you sure it is right for this market?”
Tom: “I think we can manage it.”
Joe: “Right, ok… I’ll go with your advice.”
Skip forward to the end of the week… Joe is in the boardroom defending why his team did so incredibly poorly. It was clearly because he chose a caravan that would be impossible to sell to the actual audience of the trade show.
Tom was playing the game supremely. He was being friendly to Joe and acting the part of a loyal team member, whilst really setting Joe up for a fall.
We see the Manipulators for what they are
In real life this happens all the time, but it is very hard to see – because the manipulators like Tom are very good at the act, and we only see how they deal with us. We don’t see or hear what they are saying to others behind our backs.
Modern western society forces a dilemma onto its citizens: How do I maintain a good balance between good, long-term, trusting relationships and individual achievement. The achievement often has to come by me winning and another person losing.
Machiavelli first put down the principles of individual achievement over trusted relationships back in 1500s in his book The Prince.
TV Series such as The Apprentice, Survivor and Big Brother are exquisitely designed and edited to open a clear window for the viewers into the scheming, manipulative words and actions of the competitors. They can often go for weeks believing that Tom is a wonderful friend in the house, whilst the audience has known for weeks that Tom is playing the true friend to several others and manipulating the whole house.
It is addictive watching.
I think it is addictive, because deep down we all know the game.
At the end of every course I teach at IESE Business School, all participants give extensive feedback on their experience of the course, the facilities… and on my role as a teacher.
When the summarized feedback reaches me a couple of weeks later, I open the pdf in a state of nervous tension. I am preparing myself emotionally for the news contained in the report. If the report is positive, I start to relax and enjoy the feeling of professional competence.
However, the last few quotes on the report are always the “areas for improvement”. I get tense again, and start already to justify myself before I even start reading.
I love positive feedback. I hate “developmental” feedback. I pretend sometimes to appreciate it, but I resist it fiercely inside my mind.
I am pretty sure that I am not alone.
I rationally know that it is the developmental feedback that can most help me improve, but I find it very hard in the moment to accept it and work with it. I feel it as a personal attack, not as an objective opinion of a friendly student who wholeheartedly wishes to see the institution of IESE Business School improve with their advice.
What do you do to “accept” developmental feedback? Are there any things that have changed your willingness to be open to and even seek out developmental feedback?