I am writing this from cloudy Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been attending a conference on the usage of assessments that measure people’s behavior and values. These tools help people understand themselves better and be able to connect and relate better with others.
The opening speaker for the conference shared about how people influence others and how the ability to influence others has changed over the years.
Going back twenty years or so, influence was primarily a matter of the ability to convey information to someone to convince them to change their opinion. The person in a leadership position or the person with better and more accurate information was generally able to influence the other person to at least consider their point of view. Simply put, the ability to influence was directly related to the ability to convince.
The speaker made the point – which I believe is well-taken – that influence today relies on three distinct steps: Connect, Convey, and Convince.
Connect. Connecting is the ability to use your social skills to establish trust and empathy. By putting yourself in the shoes of the other person, you are able capture their attention as you demonstrate that you care about their point of view. If you do this, they will engage with you. This will earn you the right to share your point of view with them.
Listening is an essential part of connecting. In the current age, everyone is an individual and everyone enjoys sharing their point of view, but not many people really listen.
Truly listening is displaying the desire to hear. By listening, you identify with the other person’s values. You can identify why they resist being persuaded. Hopefully you can pinpoint their resistance or objection to your position or product.
As you are connecting with them, look for opportunities to fill in their knowledge gaps. Send purposeful signals, both verbal and non-verbal, that show that you are connecting with them.
Her last point about connecting was that warmth wins over competence. Learn to smile with the eyes as you listen. People will be more open with you if you project a friendly countenance as opposed to inadvertently displaying a judgmental or resistant persona.
Convey. The second step in the influence process is to convey information. The challenge that most of us have about conveyance is that we attempt to share too much information in too much detail. Streamline what you share and strive to reduce complexity. If during the connect phase you have been successful, then you are credible. Show outcomes and results related to what you are presenting. No one wants to be reminded about the work required to achieve change. Therefore, focus on conveying essential information that is highly influential.
Keep in mind that people remember what is said first and what is said last. This suggests that we share information in triplets. Put your most important point first and your second most important third. Limit your sharing of information to three items if possible.
Also, what people see triumphs over what people hear. This is truer today than ever before. Use visuals so that you can show instead of tell. Who would have thought that one of the most valuable classes most of us have taken was “show and tell”?
Convince. The last step in the process of influencing someone is to convince. This is where many people start the process which is why they are not successful at persuading others to their point of view.
If you have properly gone through the process of connect-and-convey, then you have now earned the respect necessary to convince the other person of your point of view. At this point in the process, your audience trusts your judgment and proactively seeks your input.
As you share with them, speak with thoughtful candor. Level with them in a firm but quiet tone. As you share, focus on shifting your ideas to them. Help them own the idea. When the other party owns the idea, you are successful. You have influenced them to your point of view in a non-threatening and effective manner.
Your ability to effectively influence others can be greatly enhanced if you follow this process. When you are in a situation requiring that you influence someone, think about this three-step process – Connect, Convey, Convince. Simply being aware of the process will slow you down and help you take the time to connect and listen before moving to convey and convince. Speaking the points of your position in threes will make it easy for people to grab onto what you are saying. Finally, from a well-earned positon of respect and candor, you will find that your ability to influence others will be enhanced significantly.