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Arguably Your Most Important Communication Skill – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 2

Rich's Rules TitlecardPersuasion is – arguably – your most important communication skill. Regardless of your station in life, it’s essential that you know how to get others to follow your lead, respond to your request, get on board with an objective or do the right thing in any given situation.

Many people bristle at the idea of persuasion. But, persuasion is your natural state. When you were born, and at your most vulnerable and dependent on others, you knew how to “work people” to get your needs met. A certain cry or look or action could send an alarm, melt hearts or bring cheers! As humans mature they lose much of this natural persuasive ability. As you work to develop your persuasive skills, consider these three things:

  • Persuasion is Pervasive

The act of persuasion is almost as common as the air you breathe. When you’re aiming to persuade someone to do something, they’re as likely to be working the two way street of influence by trying to convince you otherwise. Persuasion is at work in all places all the time. It’s a very normal, natural and important part of life. To ignore the power of persuasion is to do yourself a great disservice. There are simply times when you need to convince someone to do something. There are also times when someone is trying to get you to make a choice and being aware of his or her tactics can help you separate critical elements like the individual’s credibility, how reasonable is the choice and why you are feeling what you are feeling in regard to a decision.

  •  Everything is Arguable and Everyone Has Argument

Let’s start in your household – your spouse, children, dog and – yes – even you are working someone to get something so needs get met. You go to work and it’s more of the same but with different people in different uniforms and different titles and situations. You talk with a client, a vendor, a member, a donor, etc. and persuasion is at work. If you lead, manage, supervise, serve, sell, lobby, defend, prosecute, propose, market, instruct, coach, teach, nurse or you name it – everything is arguable and everyone has an argument.

  •  Persuasion vs. Coercion or Manipulation

Ideally, the act of persuasion leaves the other person feeling good about what’s been decided. If the person DOES feel good about a choice, then probably the idea was presented and accepted as being in the person’s best interest. You may also observe that when people have been forced or coerced into something they usually DO NOT feel good about a decision. And if people have been manipulated they often feel resentful after the fact and may vow to never be fooled again by that person or in that situation.

This series will continue later with these thoughts:

  •  YOU ARE the persuasive message (Like it or not, accept or deny, 24.7.365).
  • It helps to speak the other person’s language (Remember that DISC assessment you took a while back?)
  • You can master the three key persuasive ingredients. (mixing credibility, logic and emotional appeal).
  • You must adjust to each audience and situation differently (from individual to large group and friendly to hostile situations).

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication skills coach with a master’s degree in leadership communication, 30 years of experience coaching thousands of leaders and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.  More about Rich and his coaching programs at: Drinon & Associates

 

Rich’s Rules for Change # 3: Leadership is to Aspire & Inspire & Sometimes Warn!

Rich's Rules Titlecard

In my approach to leadership communication coaching, your verbal skill is everything. This is particularly true when leading change. Leadership is your ability to influence others to get on board with any particular objective. In this case, change! Sometimes you verbalize the vision or goal. Other times you act as cheerleader by speaking inspirationally to build on current momentum. And sometimes you voice a warning that things are going sideways and they need to straighten out before they go south!

Aspire

Your job as leader requires vision and passion. To be looking upward and onward. Towards the horizon or the stars. Over, under, through or around any obstacles that stands in the way of the objective. When you ASPIRE to something HIGHER you stay focused, keep your eyes on the prize and help followers do the same by speaking aspirationally.

Inspire

Your job is also getting and keeping others on board the “ship” of state when sailing into unknown or frightening waters. Keeping all hands on deck. Understanding their collective and individual dreams – and worst imagined nightmare. Your enthusiastic message to them, “You rock!” “You rule!” “We got this!” “You da man…or woman!” or “Stay the course!”

Warn

There’s ALSO a time to take evasive or corrective action.  To direct with clarity and urgency or immediacy.  If the “ship” is heading for the rocks, a reef or runs the risk of crashing ashore, it’s your leader’s job to make sure everyone understands your commands – “Full stop!” “Anchor down!” or Hard Turn!”   Hopefully not “Abandon Ship!” Or worse, from your followers, “Walk the plank!”

Rich Drinon is NOT a sailor, although he loves boats and most bodies of water. He is, however, a leadership communication skills coach working with men and women leaders, both established and emerging, by phone nationally. You can contact Rich by emailing rdrinon@sbcglobal.net for more information.

 

Rich’s Rules for Change # 2: Another Big Bang!

Rich's Rules Titlecard

The Big Bang Theory proposes the universe originated with an explosion from a single point of energy density (singularity) and continued inflating over billions of years to become the cosmos we now know.

Change Was Suddenly Exploding and Expanding

My earliest change management presentations were given at pharmaceutical and health care conferences around the U.S. in the early 1990s. At that time you could expect change to significantly impact your business or personal life about every three years. Over time that rate of change – or the change curves – began to move from three years to 1.5 years and continued to accelerate. Not only that, but the changes began to occur in multiple areas of a person’s life so that one needed to manage many simultaneous shifts. Like a plate juggler tossing a few chain saws into the mix while ducking unpredictable fast balls from unknown directions and mean people who sucked.

Changes + Challenges = Choices

Today more and more people are subjected to Changes driven by technology that impact the workplace, markets, nations, communities, households – and budgets.  These bring new and more Challenges, such as keeping the pace, figuring out what comes next and taking aim at the new. And questions such as, “How do you know when to fully embrace the new and let go of the old?” or “How do you pay for essential upgrades in technology, tools and training?”

So many Challenges and so little time. And Choices. One the one hand, it’s a great benefit to have so many choices available at one’s fingertips. On the other hand, living in a world that pushes you to make choices – for better or worse, whether you want to or not and regardless of how ready you might be is problematic. Not to mention being pushed to decide with total disregard for your personality style and preferences for managing change.

Your Own Personal Big Bang

I knew I had found a tool for engaging with younger workers when I saw Sheldon and company on The Big Bang Theory using a S.W.O.T. Analysis to address a perplexing issue. In the past week alone I facilitated S.W.O.T. analysis sessions with hundreds of younger workers in half a dozen meetings. If you’re not familiar with the tool, S.W.O.T. is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The exercise is used in early stages of traditional strategic planning sessions to facilitate discussion and prepare a group for planning and goal setting – or taking aim at the future. You can also do a personal one. I recommend it. Sometimes a strength can also be a weakness, and a threat could be an opportunity, as indicated in the boxes.  And sometimes a S.W.O.T. Analysis can lead to the Big Bang idea that ignites your universe with new direction and powerful motion.

Here’s an example of how your S.W.O.T. might look…

Strengths / Weaknesses

Personality – Friendliness / Personality – Assertiveness

Customer service skills / Lack of management skills

Years of experience / Lack of experience in areas for promotion

High level of education / Lack of training in areas for advancement

Highly developed expertise / Lack of expertise in certain new skill sets

Opportunities / Threats

Specialize in new areas / Automation of your work area

Advancement / Changing skills set requirements

Demand for skilled professionals / Competition in your field or business

Contact Rich for Leadership Coaching at rdrinon@sbcglobal.net 

 

 

Rich’s Rules for Change # 1: Then, Now & NEXT!

Rich's Rules Titlecard

Time flies. When clients ask me about generations in the workplace I have to stop and think hard because the subject is such a moving target. Same with technology. Yesterday I didn’t think about Algorithms, Today I do. And tomorrow they will rule the world – if not already.

To stand a chance at navigating change, or at least being AT the parade route when it all passes by, let this series provoke your thinking towards staying relevant. Here are some things to consider NOW. They may change by my NEXT blog!

The World You Were Born Into Is Not The One You Live In Now

Not to sound cruel, but no one cares about hearing you say “When I was a child,” even if you’re only 19, because they’re too busy trying to keep step with what’s NOW and NEXT. Your kids might get a chuckle from stories of walking miles to school in the snow while listening to Roxette sing The Look on your Walkman. And it might be fun to reminisce with high school friends at that 2007 ten year reunion over a drink or two about the Good Old Days. No Mooning Allowed!  But, as soon as the story ends or the reunion is over, it’s back to business – the business of staying in step with change on a fast moving treadmill in the middle of a raging river in turbulent times – not to mention on a revolving planet orbiting a sun in a hardly known solar system and less familiar universe.  Unless you’re all New-Agey and stuff.

The World You Live In Now Is Not The One You Will Live In Tomorrow 

It’s hard to imagine that some of today’s cutting edge technology, high tech gadgets and compelling advertisements will seem so dated and ridiculous tomorrow. Heard last week from a friend, “Sell your lap top? No one buys laptops anymore?”  Me, “But wait! I have a fairly new one I’m not using that I’d like to sell.” And that sentence explains the whole concept.  Buckle up buddy boy, or girl, or transsexual – the new and the next is coming from that mysterious neighborhood just over the event horizon.

As Is Vs. Will Be

You, me, and everyone and everything else has an As Is situation. Current reality. Right Here, Right Now to put it in Van Halen-ish words (crap, was that 1993)?  We also have a Will Be situation waiting for us after that reunion. Be alert. Stay Relevant. Mount up. And don’t let the bucking speed of change throw you out of the saddle and stomp you into the dirt of obsolesce.

More about Rich Drinon’s Leadership Communication Coaching at Drinon & Associates

Do You Wear a Black or a White Hat? – Rich’s Rule # 12

Rich's Rules TitlecardDo You Wear a Black or a White Hat? – Develop Political Savvy

Politics are a reality of life and of the workplace.  Especially the workplace.  Many people say they hate the politics in their organization or try to avoid them.  Perhaps some can ignore the politics as they make their way along the career path.  And others might find a back room to hide in while they count money, move numbers or manage technology. But most people – even the most detached – are going to come face to face with the political realities every once in a while.

In your role as a leader, you oversee many things.  You oversee your team, your department or perhaps the organization as a whole.  You are accountable for the work of others, and accountable to your boss, the organization or the board of directors.  And, the whole arena or circus tent of politics is also on your property.  You can ignore it, but it won’t go away. You can run, but you can’t hide.  You can put it on a leash, but it will still find a way to bite you.  So, the truth is, it’s best to accept the reality of office politics and do your best to manage and even master the art form.

For this reason, Develop Political Savvy is Rich’s Rule # 12.

Click for info on Part 1 of Rich’s Rules Video Series

Shed Some Light On The Subject – Rich’s Rule # 11

Rich's Rules TitlecardShed Some Light on the Subject – Beware of the Dark Side

Over the past decade, moral intelligence has emerged as an important theme for research in leadership studies.  The good news is that leaders with higher character ratings in these studies tend to have more successful organizations on several levels.  And common sense would tell us that followers prefer leaders of high character.

In contrast, you can also see a rise in certain “dark” characteristics in younger generations and in society as a whole.  Leaders who are narcissistic and self absorbed use power for their psychological needs. Leaders who are psychopaths – lacking conscience and empathy – have a found a perch of power to defend and will do whatever it takes to keep it, even if it means killing off their own people. Then there are those who come to leadership through family, favors or tradition.  They may be unqualified to lead, and they may abuse or neglect their responsibilities.  Leadership borne of dark places comes at the expense of many. The irony, of course, is that if those types of leaders are reading this, they will either not see themselves or not care if they do recognize themselves.  I raise this topic to make leaders of good character aware of what they may be encountering in the leadership landscape.

For this reason Beware of the Dark Side is Rich’s Rule # 11.

Click for info on Part 1 of Rich’s Rules Video Series

Meeting Resistance – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 7

Rich's Rules TitlecardWhile leading others through change you’re likely to run into some push back. Resistance can come in many forms, including those that are obvious and those less visible. My approach to meeting this resistance has been influenced by change management expert Rick Maurer. A few years ago I read an article in which Rick discussed forms of resistance that come into play when people don’t “get” or “like” what you’re proposing – or don’t like you! You can find out more about Rick and his training at http://www.rickmaurer.com Here are a few thoughts related to these keys areas of resistance and reflecting my experience as a leadership communication coach:

Understanding & Making A Logical Case

There will be followers or other constituents who literally don’t understand what you’re proposing. Logical types have a hard time taking action if something doesn’t add up or make sense to them. Your plan might make sense to you, but something gets lost in translation making listeners uncomfortable. You may find their insistence on more and better information to be tedious, annoying or slowing to the plan, but if you can’t answer their questions you will be less likely to get them on board with any new direction or objective you’re proposing. This is WHY making a logical case is a key ingredient of persuasion.  And, this is why you need to have your facts, figures, statistics, charts, graphs and answers to specific questions about WHY your proposal makes sense.

Feelings & Emotional Appeal

There will also be those who resist what you’re proposing out of fear or concern. Some types have a hard time taking action if what’s proposed sounds difficult to achieve, demanding of resources or threatening to the well-being of self or others. *Fears need to be addressed. Nerves need to be calmed.  And you will likely have a large group of constituents with difficulty getting on board if they can’t see HOW something is going to be implemented.  The time required to shift people from resistant to motivated may be frustrating and yet, without this kind of care, concern and hand holding, you may not get this potentially large part of your population on board with change.  And, if people are dragging their feet, efforts at change can be sabotaged and timely opportunities lost.  This is why addressing concerns and answering questions about the HOW of a change is vital to success.

Credibility, Likability & Trust    

And, there will always be people who don’t like, believe or trust you.  It’s vital that you establish credibility PERTINENT to the change you’re proposing. If you have education or experience that earns you respect for this particular objective then make it known – or have someone else do so when introducing you. If you have expertise that others lack – emphasize that. If you were successful at leading others through a similar situation in the past – especially a difficult one – make sure your followers know. If they recognize YOU are the best hope for a successful transition they may realize it’s in their best interest to follow you, whether they like you or not.  Of course, trust is a HUGEissue, so you will need enough proof of your credibility to overcome that form of resistance.

*Fears – So not to confuse or contradict, my previous blog stated that fear of loss is usually a stronger motivator than opportunity for gain. And there arecritical times when you MUST use fear of loss to get people on board with change. This does not conflict with the idea that when, where an how to work THROUGH this important emotion can be a matter of circumstance, timing or lobbying of individuals.        

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication skills coach with an advanced education in leadership communication, 30 years of experience coaching leaders and managers and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.  

 

Adjust To Audience Size – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 6

Rich's Rules TitlecardI’m fortunate to have extensive training, experience and a gift for communicating with people in a variety of settings.  Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way about communication and influence with various size groups.

So far this series has emphasized the importance of sending a matched message vs. a mixed one in order to be understood and believable.  Harmony between your body language, tone of voice and word choices also supports you in being more persuasive.  One additional challenge is that your matched message must also adjust to fit the setting from an individual conversation to leading a small group meeting to making a larger audience presentation.

When you move from addressing a smaller audience to a larger one it’s helpful to shift your body language from relaxed or composed to more open, expansive, animated or perhaps even exaggerated.  As audience size grows, in order to be heard, you need to increase volume through vocal projection or use of a microphone while maintaining the right tone for the situation.  Your words might shift from informal or conversational to more formal, interesting or entertaining.

The trick with any sized audience is to neither overdo nor under do it.  For example, you’ve been in conversations with individuals who were overly exaggerated with their body language, talked too loud in a close setting or had poor word selection, making you feel uncomfortable and less receptive to the person’s message.  You’ve also had engaging conversations with people who communicated a matched message that fit the setting and situation.  And, you’ve endured listening to a speaker at a large conference who either showed no energy, talked in a monotone or was boring.  In contrast, you enjoyed another speaker who was physically animated, projected his or her voice and used words in an interesting, engaging or entertaining manner.

As for persuasion, sending a matched message according to audience size will not only make you more believable – but also more impressive and influential. Knowing your audience’s situation, needs and key influencers is essential if you want to persuade listeners to new action or thinking.  And, finally, you need to recognize if you are positioned to cheer or inspire your audience to new action, or if you need to use negative warnings or fear of loss messages to get them on board with a new direction.

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication coach with an education in leadership communication, 30 years of experience coaching leaders and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.  

Mastering & Mixing 3 Key Ingredients – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 5

Rich's Rules TitlecardMixing Credibility, Logic & Emotional Appeal

Every audience and situation is different – so you will need to decide which of these three elements require the most emphasis and when.  Limited action will take place if credibility has not been established. People are less likely to believe or follow your lead if they don’t trust you.  It’s also important to make a logical case, especially for the more reasonable types in your audience.  But logic is usually not enough to move people to action.  And, while emotional appeal is the aspect of persuasion that MOVES people, it can be overdone or underdone in relation to your audience.  Sometimes emotional appeal needs to be subtle, sometimes overt, sometimes upbeat and sometimes a direct warning.

Managing Motives

Two basic human motives,  fear of loss and opportunity for gain, weigh heavily when making your persuasive case.  Both are EMOTIONAL factors as opposed to the FACTUAL ingredients of logic or credibility.

  • When others are receptive to what you’re proposing, or positioned to take advantage of your offer, it’s a great time to focus on opportunity for gain.  At times like these you can be the cheerleader, rally a team and move people towards a decision, commitment or goal.
  • Until people are receptive to your message, however, your best bet is to lead with the negative.  Fear of loss is the more powerful of the two motives.  When you send a warning that there’s trouble ahead, danger is lurking or someone is going to LOSE big time you tap into the biology that’s helped humans join forces, take action and survive for so many centuries.

Making Your Case

When making your case through fear of loss, start with a quick, urgent and direct warning.  You might say, “Let’s face it, were in trouble…”  Or, “I’ve got some bad news. Things are going sideways and if we don’t act now they are likely to go completely south.”   With only a slight pause, just enough time to let your words trigger the listener’s biological alarm buttons, you can then announce the rescue by saying, “The good news is…if we take action now we can avert disaster.”  Or, “If we’re all willing to put in ten hour days between now and Christmas we can turn this ship around.”   Your third action would be to lay out the “next steps” plan of what needs to be done to evade disaster or seize an emerging opportunity and get back on the road to success.

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication skills coach with an advanced education in leadership communication,  30 years of experience coaching leaders and  managers and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.    

 The Rich’s Rules for Engagement video series, featuring more insights on persuasion, is soon to be released.  In the meanwhile you can purchase Rich’s Rules: Great Rules of Leadership for only 29.99 at the following location:    Rich’s Rules: Great Rules of Leadership Video Series  

It Helps To Speak The Other Person’s Language – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 4

Rich's Rules TitlecardWhen I first learned to SELL training, my boss instructed me to build rapport with clients starting the moment I met them.  A useful tactic was to find something in the prospect’s office of personal meaning and ask about it.  The family picture on the desk, the award on the wall or the golfing trophy on the shelf – an obvious conversation piece about the individual’s love for the game.  If I found something in common during that conversation all the better.  If we ended up golfing buddies – bingo!

From Commonality to Rapport to Influence

That was then, this is now.  But the principles of rapport remain the same. Looking and listening for points of commonality and building on those points are vital next steps.  Sometimes you experience an enjoyable conversation.  Other times you get an opportunity to do business. And, once in awhile, you cultivate a new and lasting business relationship or friendship with someone you didn’t even know the day before!

Newer studies show even the most minute points of commonality can open the door to rapport and influence.  Things like sharing the same first name, a birthday or love for a particular type of music.  Little things can make a big difference when it comes to building rapport.  “Anyone who loves jazz can’t be all bad.  What can I do you for?”   

Commonality leads to greater rapport.  Rapport to potential relationship.  Relationship brings opportunities for mutual influence and persuasion.

Relating to Someone’s Behavioral Style is a Plus

One important area of commonality and rapport is a person’s behavioral style language.  One of the most accurate and widely used assessment and training tools today is the DISC Model of Behavioral Styles.  For those unfamiliar with DISC, the acronym represents four styles of Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive and Cautious in some models (Personality Insights) or Dominant, Interactive, Steady and Compliant in others (DISC Provider). Because there are many sources of information about DISC, this article will stay focused on the communication and influence aspects.  For example:

  •  When communicating with D types, those that are direct and results oriented, it’s best to communicate in a direct, bottom line or to-the- point manner.  This is the language the D type best understands.  And, this is one way to gain the individual’s ear and respect.
  •  With I types, those who are spontaneous and people focused, it’s important to keep the conversation fun, upbeat and engaging.  By doing so the person is apt to find you fun and interesting and likely to keep the interaction going.
  •  While talking with S types, those who are considerate and relationship centered, it’s helpful to relate in a warm, friendly and caring manner.  Doing so sincerely will open the door to continued dialog.
  •  With C types, those who express themselves in a more factual and less emotional manner, it’s best to communicate with logic and reason.  By doing so the person is likely to see you as someone who is sensible and worthy of conversation (because most people aren’t!)

Speaking Four Behavioral Languages is an Advantage

So, how does persuasion further come into play with these four styles?  Here are a few additional pointers:

  • When proposing something to a D type be prepared to make your case in aconcise, impactful manner that shows how he or she gains orprevents loss from what’s being offered (opportunity for gain is a primary human motivator – so is fear of loss).
  • When proposing something to an I type make sure you appeal to the emotional factors of fun, excitement, involvement with others or, at a minimum, something that’s interesting.  If you’re not enthused about what’s being suggested, the I type probably won’t get too excited about it either (emotional appeal is one of the three major building blocks of persuasion – along with credibility and reason).
  • When proposing to the S type be sure to emphasize HOW something can be easily obtained, implemented, monitored, etc.  S types may have a hard time getting on board with a new product, service, objective or project if they can’t see HOW to get started, HOW it needs to be done and HOW it benefits everyone involved. Sincerity is critical (credibility is another of the three major building blocks of persuasion).
  • When proposing to C types make a strong logical and factual case.Although most people are persuaded through feelings or swayed by emotion, C types are the most likely to stick with the facts, figures and statistics when making a decision (logic or reason is the third of three major building blocks of persuasion).

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication skills coach with an a master’s degree in in leadership communication,  30 years of experience coaching leaders and managers and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.   He is a certified DISC instructor.