Listening is a state of seeking to be changed by the other person.
Listening is less about the ears, than about a state of openness to change.
Hearing is different from all other senses in that it has a buffer, a short term memory of the last 8 seconds that we have heard. This allows us to pay little attention until we hear a word, our name or a silence and this triggers us to scan the last few seconds of audio intently. Most of the time we learn to listen with little attention.
This is a dangerous mode of listening to those whose relationships are important to us. We must learn another way of listening to people who we value and are important to us. We must “listen with our eyes”.
When someone approaches me with the challenge: “I have a really difficult time communicating with my second son”. My question: “how have you let him change you?” This is what makes a relationship – a sense that both have the capacity to affect change in the other. Where I don’t let you affect my views, you will not let me affect your views. This does not mean that we let go of rationality. This means we are open to the different priorities that another person uses to view the world.
Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.
You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.
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?
I uploaded my first educational tips video to youtube in January 2011. I wanted to reach out to a wider audience than can come and attend IESE Business School in Barcelona or in Madrid, or those who read my blog.
Today, there are 77 short educational videos on the channel, and with 1.3 Million views, the channel has been a success far beyond what I ever would have expected.
The Future Evolution of my YouTube Educational Channel
UCD Smurfit Business School will be hosting a 3 day Influence and Persuasive Communications Seminar on January 14-16 2015.
About UCD Smurfit Business School
UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School is Ireland’s leading business school and research centre. The school offers a wide range of postgraduate business programmes that equip students to become the business leaders of the future.
UCD Smurfit are one of less than 60 business schools worldwide to hold triple accreditation from the US, Europe and the UK accrediting bodies.
Using a wide range of practical tools and concepts, participants will learn how to use both emotional and rational intelligence to persuade others in one-on-one situations and presentations.
It is a highly interactive course that will see participants acquire techniques for establishing credibility and managing nervous energy.
In addition they will gain valuable expertise in delivering diverse types of speeches by mastering the clear and powerful communication that is vital for accomplishing any business objective in today’s economic climate.
He speaks of an old 1960’s idea called “Latitude of Acceptance”. He defines it better than I, so I’ll pretty much take his text verbatim:
Matthew Lieberman on Latitudes of Acceptance
“I’ll tell you about my new favorite idea, which like all new favorite ideas, is really an old idea. This one, from the 1960s, was used only in a couple of studies. It’s called “latitude of acceptance”. If I want to persuade you, what I need to do is pitch my arguments so that they’re in the range of a bubble around your current belief; it’s not too far from your current belief, but it’s within this bubble. If your belief is that you’re really, really anti-guns, let’s say, and I want to move you a bit, if I come along and say, “here’s the pro-gun position,” you’re actually going to move further away. Okay? It’s outside the bubble of things that I can consider as reasonable.
We all have these latitudes around our beliefs, our values, our attitudes, which teams are ok to root for, and so on, and these bubbles move. They flex. When you’re drunk, or when you’ve had a good meal, or when you’re with people you care about versus strangers, these bubbles flex and move in different ways. Getting two groups to work together is about trying to get them to a place where their bubbles overlap, not their ideas, not their beliefs, but the bubbles that surround their ideas. Once you do that, you don’t try to get them to go to the other position, you try to get them to see there’s some common ground that you don’t share, but that you think would not be a crazy position to hold.
There’s the old Carlin bit about when you drive on the road: anyone going faster than me is a maniac and anyone going slower than me is a jerk. That that’s the way we live our lives. We’re always going the right speed, and everybody else is missing the boat. We don’t take into account that I’m going fast today because I’ve got to get to the hospital, or I’m going slow today because I know I had something to drink, and I shouldn’t have, so I’m going to drive real slow. We don’t take those things into account. We just think whatever I’m doing is the right thing, and we have to recognize there’s this space around those, and if we can find that overlap we can get some movement. And so that’s not a nudge idea, per se. It’s really about finding when people are in a mental space where they’re more open to other ideas, and what is often going on there is you’re trying on identities.
William James said long ago that we have as many identities as people that we know, and probably more than that. We are different with different people. I’m different with my son than I am with you. We have these different identities that we try on, and they surround us. With some friends I can be more of a centrist, and with other friends I might be more of a liberal, depending on what feels like it would work in that moment, and they can all be authentic positions that I really believe at different points in time. I’m really interested in looking at that as a mechanism of persuasion when it comes to regular old persuasion, when it comes to education, when it comes to public health, and when it comes to international issues as well. It’s finding that latitude of acceptance and finding out how to use it successfully.”
Aristotle spoke of the search for the Enthymeme – the point where my beliefs connect to your beliefs. If you can find the enthymeme, you can build an argument that has a chance of persuading. If you cannot find the enthymeme, then reason will not help build a bridge between your two positions. The most important part of finding the enthymeme is finding out what is assumed as true for the audience.
The modern concept Latitudes of Acceptance captures this age-old idea of searching for the Enthymeme.
Point X and Latitudes of Acceptance
I have been a proponent for over a decade of starting all persuasive processes with your Point X. What is a realistic, concrete and specific step that you want the audience to take at the end of your words? If you can answer this first, you have a good chance of building a powerful persuasive speech.
Most persuasion fails here – it fails because we are unclear or unrealistic about what we ask of the audience.
Rory Sutherland tells some wonderful stories about the power of framing. If you want to be persuasive, you must get good at framing the argument. Good framing shifts the argument to a playing field where you can achieve your ends and the other can feel that they have gotten a good deal.
Prices are not expensive or inexpensive in abstract, only in relative terms. If I say that “this watch costs €100” – I have allowed you to frame your perspective on expensive or cheap. If I say “other watches in this very category sell for over €1,000; this watch costs €100” – I have started to provide my own framing for the situation.
Compared to what?
Rory talks about small shifts in framing have a powerful impact. He gives the example from car sales that it is far better to give a rebate of €3000 on top of trade in valuation versus giving €3000 off the full purchase price. The framing of a trade-in price of €7000 plus €3000 is much more impactful than offering €3000 reduction on the full price of €22,000. It is the same €3000 in cash, but it is not the same €3000 from a psychological point of view.
This framing also works for selling expensive cars at plane and boat shows – context shifts way we see the price. A €300,000 car seems expensive when seen in a showroom of €50,000 cars… but it feels more reasonable when placed next to €1.2M boats or €6M private jets.
You finish your pitch and the customer says: “Your product is too expensive!”. You arrive home, you’re a few minutes late: your partner says “You are always late!”. At a dirty plate left on the table: “you never wash the dishes!”
What do you say in this moment?
How do you handle objections? It is possible to take proactive control of your emotional state. You can practice a habit of not reacting like a viper snake or a cornered bear. It will improve how you sell, it will improve how you manage… and it will improve the quality of your relationships.
I posted a short video yesterday to my YouTube Channel explaining a concept that I teach in my class on persuasion: “Aikido Conversation”.
From: “What I want to say”
The most important step in persuasion is being able to leave behind “what I want to say” and move to what “they need to hear”. It requires emotional control that we don’t have as standard.
To: “They need to hear”
When someone gives you an objection, or accuses you of something – the real issue is underneath, not at the surface. If you react with what “I want to say” you will have a fight, you will lose the opportunity to understand what is really at issue.
How to deal with Objections
I would love for you to subscribe to my Rhetorical Journey YouTube channel: now at 100,000 views http://t.co/nWEbr4x3
You finish your pitch and the customer says: “It’s quite expensive”… “Your product is too expensive!”
You arrive home, you’re a few minutes late: your partner says “You are always late”
At a dirty plate left on the table: “you never wash the dishes”
What do you say in this moment?
Most of you, and myself included, went through 14 years of school where we were taught one way to respond to questions:
Teacher asks questions “how do you spell cat?”
Student: “C A T”
Teacher: “what is the biological process called osmosis?”
Student puts hand up explains in detail the process through which cell membranes allow water to go from one side to the other.
So for 14 years you’ve been taught that you provided an answer to a question. If you went to university you probably had another 3,4 years where you gave answers to questions… but in real life, in persuasion in getting to what the other person is really about, what their needs really are the worst thing you can do is give an answer to question. If someone says “your product is too expensive” and you said “no it’s not! it’s only €1000” you’ve lost every chance to understand what else is behind their reasoning.
If you get home and your partner says “you’re always late!”
“No no no! Tuesday I definitely was here on time”… you’re gonna have a crap weekend
You’ve had 14, if not 18 years of training that you answer questions and it’s going to cause fights in your home life, it’s going to cause problems at work, it means you’re not selling anything.
Because when someone says your product is too expensive, that’s not what their real issue is. When someone says “I will have to speak to my boss” that’s not what their real issue is.
If we had lots of time here I would create a little role-play thing because what happens here in our model of the human brain: the stem, emotion
When your partner says “you’re always late” emotion goes up and what happens is this part disconnects. The way to make someone stupider is insult them, object to them tell them they are wrong. When asked a question there’s an emotional reaction.
Emotion up, Intelligence down
and the higher emotion goes
the lower thinking goes
so if you don’t practice this response you’re not going be able to do it in the moment. if you don’t practice repeatedly how you’ll respond to
“you’re always late!”,
“you never wash the dishes!”,
“you never do your part of the share!”
“your product is too expensive!”,
“your competitor is better!”,
“you failed us 3 years ago!”
“I don’t trust your company!”
if you don’t practice this habit of not giving an answer. You’re not going to be able to do it in the heat of the moment.
So i would say this: when you are asked a question or given an objection what I want you to do is say “I understand”, and repeat in your words what they’re saying:
Them: “your product is too expensive!”
You: “I understand that money is an important factor for you, What other criteria will be used in taking this decision?”
You understand… and you give an open question back. I call this “Conversation Aikido”
Martial Arts are about using the energy, the force of the opponent against them. In Judo, if someone punches you pull their arm and you allow the energy to keep flowing. In Karate… don’t be where the energy is arriving. In Aikido the concept is you go towards the punch, go towards the energy
If someone punches you, if someone asks you a question, if someone objects or says you’re wrong: The Aikido method is go towards and see the world from their view.
In Aikido you learn to go towards the punch, dodge it, and look and you are seeing the world in the same direction as the person who’s attacking you.
It takes some habit to start to be able to give “I understand” and fill in good words so practicing
“you’re always late!”…
“I understand you feel frustrated”
“I understand you feel let down”
You will have to work on this quite a few times over the next 10 years to find the set of words that captures what the other person feels, what’s behind it
“What can we do now?”
“What happened during the day?”,
“What would you like to talk about?”,
“What can we do this weekend?”
so that is the way that instead of when you get punched, walking straight into the punch, having a very bad weekend; when a client says “you’re too expensive!” and you say “No we are not!”: You learn nothing:
about who else they are considering
what other criteria are important
what process they have gone through
who else is involved in the decision
I hope that, and this takes 14 years of it being drummed into you… 4 more, 18 if you went to university. It’s gonna take you at least 18 years to get out of the habit of responding to questions with answers
We live in an uncertain world and we don’t have the answers but by giving the answer we shut down the possibility of hearing what’s really going on in the other person’s mind, in the other person’s business, what other things are going on; so if someone says:
“your product is too expensive” -> “I understand that money is an important criteria for you what other things are important in this decision?”
“I’ll have to talk to my boss in this” -> “Hey, this is an important decision I understand you want to get everyone involved” “When can I come and meet with you and your boss together?”
…that’s a bit of a closed question…
but the habit here is being good at “I understand” and accepting the energy that is coming from the other person and then giving back an open question
and I guarantee that if you do it 4 times: the answer to your 4th open question begins to be what’s the real underlying need issue, interest of the person that you’re listening to.