In this post, we will be discussing 3 principles to be an influential communicator viz. Connect, Convey and Convince. This post is an excerpt from a great book – “Talk Less, Say More: Three Habits to Influence Others and Make Things Happen by Connie Dieken.
Principle#1 – Connect: Read here…
Principle#2 – Convey: Read here…
Principle#3 – Convince Managing Action
Convincing does not mean manipulating or arm-twisting. Manipulators focus on their own needs and theirs alone. They’re determined to get their way, regardless of the impact on others. They’ll steamroll, lie, or omit the truth in order to get what they want. True, manipulators often get their way, but their success is short-lived. They earn merely compliance, not commitment.
Convincing is not a thunderbolt event. It’s not an isolated, once-and-done occurrence. It’s a process that unfolds incrementally—Connect-Convey-Convince —to change hearts and minds and compel others to action. It’s the third and final step. If you’ve connected and conveyed properly, convincing should be the easiest step.
Convince in a smart manner, and you’ll improve your ability to sell ideas, products, services, or even yourself. You’ll experience a dramatic increase in your ability to get things done through others.
Strategy#1: Sound Decisive
The language of leadership is decisive. Using weak language strips you of power and blocks your ability to convince others and determine outcomes. When you sound decisive, you capitalize on opportunities and conquer obstacles. Making good decisions quickly and speaking with confidence is a hallmark of a high-performance leader. Confidence is contagious. If you sound self-assured, people will respond with confidence to you and your contributions.
In order to convince others, you must first sound as if you’ve convinced yourself. When you sound decisive, you will
Be better understood
Gain clout and respect; Get credit for your ideas
Say “no” more powerfully; Get to “yes” more quickly
DECISIVE TACTIC#1: Stop Tagging and Hedging
Tagging means turning a perfectly good declarative sentence into a question by adding a short question at the end. It turns a statement into a request for validation. Hedging means starting a sentence with weak words in order to dodge commitment.
These two habits imply that you’re unsure of your facts, the situation, or yourself. They’re poison to the process of persuasion because they signal neediness, uncertainty, or a lack of confidence. When you tag and hedge, at best, people don’t commit; at worst, aggressive people take the opportunity to pounce.
Tagging. A tag is a small addition to a sentence, but its consequences are huge. It gives away your power by signaling that you need validation or approval before you’ll commit to making a decision. Why should others commit if you won’t?
Someone says, “This is a good plan . . . don’t you think?” as someone seeks to validate her opinion. It weakens his/her standby asking for validation.
Tagging means adding on phrases such as:
“. . . isn’t that right?”
“. . . don’t you think?”
“. . . okay?”
“. . . all right?”
This is not to say that tagging isn’t useful on occasion, such as when you aim to gain agreement. Powerful people tag purposefully and sparingly. They use the occasional tag decisively to win consensus and gain agreement. Weak communicators use tags to gain validation.
Hedging. Here are a few examples of hedging your way into a sentence:
“I’m not an expert, but . . .”
“I could be wrong, but . . .”
“I guess what I’m saying is . . .”
“I kind of feel like . . .”
“I’m only an assistant, but . . .”
Habitual hedging makes you sound like you doubt your own words. You’re hiding behind words and giving yourself a trapdoor to dodge personal commitment. Beating around the bush adds no value to a sentence and undermines your authority. Simply put, hedging sounds wishy-washy and weak.
Smart hedges. Smart hedging is a different story. It’s purposeful. In these cases, hedging is not only appropriate, it’s wise. The trick is to soften by choosing smart hedging words like these: – might – may – consider – appears to – could – should – seems to;
DECISIVE TACTIC#2: Contribute to Meetings
At times, we stifled ourselves because we afraid of saying something stupid in front of higher-ups. But the judgements about your leadership abilities are inferred from the way you contribute. People size you up to decide if your ideas merit their support and commitment to action.
TIPS to contribute to meetings:-
Use planned spontaneity. If you’re anxious or uncertain in new surroundings, prepare in advance to contribute something on a specific topic. Review the agenda before the meeting and search for a topic where you can add value. Done properly, planned spontaneity is stealth. It sounds like you just thought it up on the spot and earns others’ respect.
Be direct. Don’t sound ambiguous when making requests or telling subordinates what to do. Spell it out directly. Indirectness leads others to conclude that your requests and directives are unimportant and can be overlooked.
Invite opposing viewpoints. Those who avoid opposition risk coming across as insecure or arrogant. Ask others to voice their concerns.
Get a mentor. Seek out a role model who’s earned other people’s respect by being a decisive communicator. Ask that person to critique you and help you appear more confident and influential.
DECISIVE TACTIC#3: Voice Your Opinions with Sincerity
Apologizing in a smart fashion can bolster your credibility and convince others to change their minds and take positive action. Don’t toss around “I’m sorry” like a football on Thanksgiving Day. Like antibiotics, apologies become ineffective with overuse or misuse.
TIPS to generate goodwill with a contrite but classy apology:
Don’t sidestep. If an issue embarrasses you, you might instinctively avoid it in an effort to save face. Instead, you’ll look insensitive. A good, honest apology mends relationships and reputations. When you apologize, you convince others that you’re confident and empathetic. Hit the hot button.
State the solution. If there’s a remedy to your transgression, share exactly how you’re going to make it right. This will prevent future arrows from being slung at you.
Don’t blame the victim. You’ll sound pompous and insincere. Don’t begin with “If I offended anybody . . . ” That sounds like you’re blaming a resentful person for being overly sensitive to remarks that you obviously didn’t intend as an affront. Instead, take responsibility. Say something like, “I offended you and I’m sorry.”
Time is of the essence. Apologize as soon as possible. In today’s Internet age, you can’t wait for the Web to spread bad things before you express your contrition, or people will be convinced that you’re guilty and don’t care.
Strategy#2: Transfer Ownership
Transferring ownership means shifting your ideas and decisions to others so they will embrace them and act on them. People should feel as if they’re Volunteering, Not Surrendering.
A good leader wants people to own what they do and take responsibility for their actions. Transferring ownership helps build morale, retention, productivity, and sales. It also encourages commitment to you as the leader. If you transfer your ideas and decisions to others so they can take ownership, you’re more likely to get positive results.
Let’s look to Nike, led by CEO Phil Knight, as a living example of this principle. Do Nike advertisements instruct you to buy their products? No. They show you athletic superstars who’ve capitalized on their potential while wearing Nike products. They let you arrive at the decision to buy Nike products yourself. You’re convinced that Nike products will help your performance, too.
Following are three tactics to transfer ownership:
TRANSFER TACTIC#1: Use Peer Power
Seek commitment from key influencers. Secure their commitment before meetings where you’ll introduce your ideas. Their commitment will fill your pipeline with others. Tap into trustworthy, popular people.
TRANSFER TACTIC#2: Reveal Your Reasoning
Why is this critical? When they don’t hear the real reason behind a decision, many people will assign it the worst possible reasoning. It’s human nature. Office gossips assume the worst and spread their poison, leading to grudges, resistance, and poor execution.
Get out front with it quickly. Don’t let people draw their own conclusions. Don’t allow uninformed or ill-informed people to convince others that your idea or decision is not in their best interest.
Define, don’t defend. If you’re explaining a challenging situation, focus on what you’re doing to overcome it rather than allowing yourself to dissect it. Don’t put blood in the water or the sharks will tear you apart.
Put it in writing. Decisions become real when they’re committed to paper. Let people see it so they believe it. Nothing is truly settled until it’s committed to writing.
Let them volunteer, not surrender. Don’t push and shove. Be patient and let people reach their own conclusions.
TRANSFER TACTIC#3: Let It Flow
Ownership can now be transferred in both directions, because the Internet changed everything.
TIPS: Here are ways to let it flow to transfer ownership:
Break the barrier. Reach out and encourage others to speak up.
Respond to the feedback.
Monitor Web entries. Google Alerts offers free e-mail updates on Web entries. Let Google track the Web and keep you updated when others post new information. You’ll learn about dissatisfaction and pleasure by monitoring blogs, chat rooms, and Web entries.
Use smart Q&A. In meetings, always end on a positive question from a peer. Tie your answer back to your key point to capitalize on commitments.
Strategy#3: Adjust Your Energy
What here means by “adjusting your energy” is combining your purpose with the right level of passion. Sometimes you need to ramp it up; sometimes you need to tone it down. It’s situational, but achieving the right energy level convinces people to act.
When you communicate with someone, it’s not just the words you choose that send a message. People monitor the signals you send. Your intensity, facial expression, pitch, tone, volume, eye contact, and body language all combine to influence others.
Energy boosts likability, which is a key ingredient to generate commitment from others. Likability becomes the framework for the rest of the information people gather about you and your ideas, so make it positive and upbeat.
Even if you don’t do formal presentations, you need energy for phone calls, conference calls, staff meetings, webcasts, and other new media. Your energy can be broken down into three components: voice, face, and body.
ENERGY TACTIC#1: Your Voice
Use vocal variety. Sameness is the death of any speaker. Don’t hypnotize or lull people to sleep by speaking in the same continuous tone. Switch it up. Use all the range in your voice—the depth, the mid-tones, and, occasionally, the high range.
Shift the speed. Speed is another energy indicator. Slow down when you want to emphasize a point; speed up when a lively pace is appropriate. Just don’t drone on at the same pace. A constant rhythm is a sedative to the ears.
Use shorter sentences. Some people sound boring because every sentence they speak is so long. Toss short sentences in as often as you can. You’ll be amazed at how this breaks monotony and makes people sit up and take notice.
Try the power pause. After you make an important point, let it breathe. Don’t rush to fill the silence. People are intrigued by momentary silence, so throw in a pause when you need to command attention and gain power. The power pause signals that what you just said (or are about to say) is important and the listener should let it sink in.
ENERGY TACTIC#2: Your Face
People form opinions about you with a quick glance at your face. They eyeball your mug, interpret its meaning, and respond accordingly. Some of the most successful leaders share warm facial expressions.
CEOs Phil Knight of Nike and Richard Branson of Virgin brands are approachable leaders—it’s written all over their faces. Their smiles are not plastered on or manufactured, they’re genuine. The same is true with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. They appear open, agreeable, and positive, and have benefited from it.
Is your face dead or alive? Consider Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. See the photo of the two men at the same moment in time on CNN. Photo credit: CNN The constant twinkle in Bill Clinton’s eyes gives the impression that he’s engaged and interested. Bob Dole’s lack of energy leaves the unintended impression that he’s smelled something bad.
ENERGY TACTIC#3: Your Body
When we see body language that we interpret as powerful and positive, we’re more apt to respond positively to what we hear.
Make it real. Gestures are most effective when they’re a natural extension of the feelings you’re trying to express. Gestures can reinforce your message, or they can undercut it if they come across as forced or fake. As long as your gestures match your intensity, they’ll work to your advantage.
Don’t stifle positive gestures. Some people mistakenly believe they talk with their hands too much. That’s rare. If your arm movements distract from your words, then yes, they can be too much. However, most heartfelt gestures are consistent with your words, and therefore, they help to improve your energy level and your voice
Quiet your lower body. Here’s where most people need to tone it down. Pacing back and forth or bouncing your legs or feet is very distracting. Keep the lower body relatively quiet.
Use the power stance. When standing, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Soften the knees a tad. This is the best position for the lower body to come across as relaxed but powerful. It also keeps tension at a minimum.