Tag Archives: Listening

in·flu·ence

“Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks becomes a light and a power. ”
Henry George

Influence is what changes the world.   A small idea that springs to life and becomes world-changing is an act of influence.   Take a look at the power of something like the iPad.  This device is becoming a force of influence and a force for change.  Schools are using iPad’s to transform the learning experience and change the next generation of learners.

What is influence and how does it work?

Influence is the ability to shift a thought, action or a belief.   Influence is a natural power that everyone has and the rules are embodied in the social fabric and culture and are seemingly invisible.

Everyday you are being targeted by people who specialize in influencing your choices.   What makes something better?   What makes the time right to make a purchase?   What creates a need?

How does someone influence you?

1. They may give you a gift.    The natural reaction is to desire to return something to the giver of the gift.   Marketers give inexpensive things to people using the idea of reciprocity (desire to give back something) as a way to create a desire to make a purchase.     The next time you do someone a favor and they thank-you for the help you gave reply by saying “You’re welcome, I know you’d do the same for me.”, and this will create an unspoken obligation.

2. Scarcity.   Anytime anything becomes rare or exclusive the desire for that thing become greater.   “Only 3 left”, “only 5 minutes left”, “almost sold out”, or “final day”, these statements create a sense that something is going to be gone or that you’re going to be left without if you don’t take action.   You only have 5 minutes before the 50% off sale ends.     People react to scarcity with an increased desire for that service or product.  It works!

3. Being the expert.   If you are an expert in a given area you will have influence.   You probably wouldn’t seek out advice from someone who doesn’t know anything about the topic you want to know more about.   The expert has credibility and that means the ability to influence.

4. Charisma or being liked.   People like to do things with people they like.  Friends have influence over you or they would likely not be a friend.  You trust others who have similar or the same likes.     People often rely on their friends for advice on making purchases as in “What kind of car would you buy?”

5. Listening to what others say.   When you are trying to make a decision there is a good chance that you’ll seek out the opinions of other people.   What is the experience other people have had with a product or service.   “Would you do business with them?” .  People look for ways to lower their risk of making a decision.   Testimonials help provide that social proof that there was positive results.

6. By creating commitments.   When you make a commitment to doing something there is a strong chance that you’ll honor that commitment.   People who make commitments to some cause will likely do the work when they are asked, it doesn’t  take much to convince them to act in line with their commitment.   Honoring a commitment is something people do to maintain their integrity.

Robert Cialdini the acclaimed expert on influence speaks to Success Magazine readers and talks about areas of influence.

What are you influenced by?   How are you influenced?

Leadership limits

Maybe you’ve seen a leader who has been successful in the past run into a large barrier, a barrier where all the sudden the leadership model changes to a high touch management model.     Leadership limits are reached when the belief is that while leadership is good, maybe it isn’t good enough to deal with the current crisis.   Instead of letting go there is more control and more demands made of the staff.   Initially the results seem positive with more action taking place but eventually the results start to decline.   The decline leads to stronger and more forceful limits being imposed and again there is a surge of energy and then poorer results.

Leaders who start to constrict their organization soon choke the creativity and passion out of the staff.   Customers start feeling like they aren’t cared for as the organization slowly inhibits communications.  Transparency shrinks and eventually open communications is silenced.   A thread of fear starts to run through the internal network and rumors sprout.   What used to be a supportive organization suddenly becomes defensive, the posture of more control is better.   

The cycle of negativity grows in a spiral, more taken away, more rules put into place and eventually the top performers start to move away from the pressure and seek placement in roles in other places.

Leaders that have reached their limit should try to let go to grow.   That is a leader needs to back away from close in management and be willing to listen to the voices throughout the organization.    

What do you think?

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”

~Confucius

relentless focus

Listening is an essential attribute in a client coach relationship.  Each of us carries with us a story, a unique story about the past, present and the future.  Our story is filled with the experiences and events that have shaped our lives. 

For example when we are listening we hear the words (content) and then relate them to our contextual framework (our experience).   As we overlay what we hear with our experience (what is in our memory) we “pop out” of the conversation for a moment and depending on the vividness of the story we may “pop out” of the conversation for a few seconds.   When that happens we have lost connection with the story that is being presented (i.e. we are no longer present). 

Intentional listening takes work and like physical exercise needs to be done often in order to improve.   Listen with intent for thirty seconds each day building towards one minute of focused listening (which means silencing the internal critic in the head).  Process the story and allow the story being told to be the only thing that is being processed.   When there are breaks in concentration quickly return to the full focus of listening.

If the speaker mentions “mountains” our mind will imagine a mountain and in many cases our mind will probe the shape, the orientation, height, cliffs, valleys and other features of that mountain and that takes us away from the story.   Those “pops” out of the listening experience need to be very brief in order to be fully present in the listening process.  

It is not that it is wrong to connect our context with the content of the story because that is how we are able to share experiences even though there are vast differences in the context of the story.   We just need to be careful not to escape into our story when we are listening to the story of another person.

Do you “pop out” of the story or are you disciplined in your listening abilities?

How long can you focus on the story of another person?

What can you do to improve your focus?

Now what if your brain becomes full, what do you do?  [This is where we acknowledge the story, through paraphrasing, echoing, questioning …]