Monday, May 17, 2010

Realistic Influencing (part one)

realistic influencing Recently I went to a three-day course about 'Realistic Influencing'. I've been wanting to go to a course about influencing for some time. My role, as an information architect, is about influencing. And I'd like to know how courses about influencing try to help people be better influencers. I enjoyed the course and would like to share some learning points with you. Here's part one.

1. In the 1st place I like the diagram (inserted as a picture in this post). I like it's simplicity. And we went through all the parts of it and experimented with it. 'Facts' are things a person sees as real. His or her experienced truth. This don't not have to be the same as a fact, as we usually talk about facts. Like 2+2=4. As we know (and maybe even have experienced) some would dare say the equation is not true, not a fact either... The idea behind this model is to take the persons 'fact' as a fact.

'Criteria' are personal norms and values a person finds important. Sometimes they are implicit, sometimes explicit. Criteria are the ground of convictions. Some criteria are valid forever, some are valid during a project or a weekend, for instance. Example of a criterion is 'result driven' and 'be on time'. Note: a fact can also be a criterion.

The last part of the diagram is 'Conclusions'. Conclusions are the conclusions people draw based on the 'Facts' and 'Criteria'.

The whole model together comprised our 'Convictions'. So, 'Convictions' consists of 'Facts', 'Criteria' and 'Conclusions'.

2. As I said 'Criteria' can be implicit or explicit. Finding a person's criteria is important when influencing. Based on someone's 'Conclusions' you can try to find the other's 'Criteria' by asking: 'Why do you conclude this?'

The same goes for 'Facts'. They can be implicit or explicit too. Often people just state their 'Conclusions'. Understanding their underlying 'Facts' is essential for influencing. Asking 'What their factual basis is for their conclusion' is an easy way to find the fact or facts underlying their conclusion.

3. This diagram basically says: Don't try to change someone's Facts and Criteria. It's really hard to do that. This was an eye-opener to me. I find myself often not wondering what the criteria are of the person I'm trying to influence (usually because there is not enough time... - not an excuse!). Or I find myself working on his/her facts. Trying to prove the facts are wrong... And usually this doesn't work.

4. The underlying conviction(!) of this diagram is you need to 'click' with the other person to be able to influence. This 'click' needs to be on the level of 'convictions'.

5. So, the only place we can start is we have to start is Conclusions. How do we change them? There are three strategies:

1. Offer alternatives: based on the same facts and conclusions, draw different conclusions

2. Reframing: draw new conclusions, based on extra facts (remember don't try to change his/her facts!) you put next to the facts of the person you're trying to influence. Don't use too many extra facts!

3. Pragmatic evaluation: don't change a thing but think the filled in diagram through. What consequences do the conclusions have based on the facts and criteria. Are these consequences realistic, intended, etc.

6. We played around with the diagram and strategies, as said. And practiced using it in in real discussions.

7. We also examined our own criteria. We made a list of them and tried to rank them. (As I wrote, don't try to change someone's criteria. But if you have to try to start with the one that is ranked lowest.) Comparing your list to other's helped find overlap in criteria. This overlap is a good starting point for influencing.

Asking each other what his/her criteria are is a good way of finding the 'click'. The other can change the way you see him/her or he/she sees you are really listening.

What are some of my criteria? Honesty, Faithfulness, Justice, Do your best, etc.

8. An interesting part of the course was investigating our inner-voice. Most people have voices in their head telling them what to do. These voices can contradict each other. These voices usually have a link to short-term or long-term personal criteria. Listening to them is important to understand your personal criteria. You can play with them by speaking out loud about them. 'On the one hand I'd like to, but on the other hand...'.

9. We also went into nonverbal communication. Are these cues incongruent with what is being said?

10. And finally, on day 2 of the first part of the course, we also looked at 'Objections'. Objections are barriers that block seeing the future bright world. Objections can be practical or relate to criteria. Use the above-mentioned strategies to approach criteria-related objections. Approach objections related to practice with practical solutions.

That was all for the first part of the course. I'll blog about the second part soon.

I hope you enjoyed this post. How do you influence others? What is your approach? What works for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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