The art of communication is the language of leadership. -James Humes
The two biggest motivators in life are power and love. People will do anything for both – this is why you see gun violence, street violence, gang affiliations, all the way to beautiful acts of courage like putting your life on the line to save others’. In order to successfully have power or love, you need to master one skill: influence. Influence isn’t about controlling other people, or being able to manipulate the pants off of someone. It’s about getting people on your side, and getting people to like you.
Unfortunately, there just isn’t a shortcut or hack to developing influence. You have to learn the steps and skills that are needed to win people over. The bedrock of powerful influence is your ability to communicate. How can we learn to communicate effectively and in a way that accurately portrays what you’re trying to say?
I once read somewhere that just by changing a single word, you can change the meaning, mood, and motivation of your content and your audience. Let’s take an example to underscore how powerful this really is. In a study, researchers found that witnesses who watched a car accident and heard the car being described as “contacted” gave significantly different answers than those who heard it being described as “smashed” when asked the question: “how fast was the car going?”
How can you use this to your advantage? Learn power language. Here are three to get you started:
- Yes, and… As soon as you hear the word but, everything before that word goes out the window. So the next time you’re in a debate with someone or simply trying to convey a point of view that’s different from the other person’s, use this phrase instead of the word, but. For example, “Yes, I understand that I said I would be home two hours ago, and I got so caught up in a new deal that would be so beneficial for you and the kids that…”
- When you… When you presuppose that something will happen, it’s no longer part of the conversation/equation and is not up for debate. What do I mean by this? Instead of asking your kids to clean up their room, simply tell them, “When you’re done cleaning your room today, let’s go out for some ice cream because you deserve it.” You’re presupposing that they’ll do it, no questions asked, and you’ve moved on to what comes after.
- Because… This one is based on the principle of human behavior. When we ask someone to do something, we increase the likelihood of it happening if we provide a reason. It’s human nature to question things. You see it evident in little kids, “why is the sky blue?” and “why does Muffin like to chase his tail?” It doesn’t stop with four year olds. Even 65 year olds love to question life. Let’s be clear. We all like to have reasons, especially for our own behaviors. Take the following for example. In his book, Influence, Cialdini cites an experiment in which research participants were tasked with trying to cut the line at a copy store. They asked people on long lines waiting to make copies themselves, “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” When they asked the question precisely in that way, researchers found that 60% of those they asked allowed the research participants to cut in line. However, when they added a reason as to why they wanted to cut “…. because I’m in a hurry?” at the end, a whopping 94% of the people let them cut. Here’s where it gets interesting. When they added, “…because I have to make copies?” instead of “because I’m in a hurry”, 93% allowed them to cut in! Because I have to make copies is not a reason! It simply recites what they’re asking to do in the first place. Point of story: even nonsensical reasons provide incentive for people to acquiesce to your request. So next time a request is made, provide a reason for the request.
Yes, it may feel overwhelming to implement all three at once, and when you start with one of these three right away, you’ll realize how powerfully and effectively communicate with others, because the tool of communication is an art to be practiced.
Contact Me if you want to learn immediate and effecient ways to communicate with your team.
Your life is your gift. Don’t waste it. #SingularPresence
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