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“Business volume to our new targeted market increased by 300% in just 3 MONTHS! ”

~ Dave Brandt, Divisional Vice President, GE Financial Advisors, Genworth

The Need to “Get Inside Their Head”

February 24th, 2012 by Bob Burg

So often, when we hear someone talk about “getting inside someone’s head” it’s meant as a way to manipulate and control. Athletes use this phrase a lot. They know that if they can get inside their opponent’s head — have them bothered, confused, intimidated, etc. — they can “throw them off their game” and make them far less effective.

I love watching “Patrick Jane” on The Mentalist get inside his suspects’ heads in order to get them to involuntarily give themselves away. Come to think of it, “Lieutenant Columbo”, via his, “Oh, just one more thing” used to do the same to his suspects.

But, in the awesome book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen, YUM! Brands Chairman & CEO, David Novak approaches this totally differently and benevolently. He believes that only by getting into the heads of those you want to take with you can you understand their needs and desires.

And, when thinking about it, not only is it true; it is perhaps the only way one can effectively lead and influence others.

When he says “get inside their head” he means determining what it is they desire, and how doing what you’re asking them to do fits into — and aligns with — their values. This goes right back to Dale Carnegie’s admonition that “people do things for their reasons, not our reasons.”

If you want to influence and lead, and bring out the best in the individuals on your team (or anyone else you must influence in the process of accomplishing your goal or mission), you’ll need to focus on how it affects them.

One important point Mr. Novak brought up is also being interested enough to learn what fears they might have that could possibly keep them from buying into your ideas.

So, yes…when done with a true sense of caring about the other person, getting inside a person’s head can be one of the most benevolent and effective methods of bringing people along with you and helping them realize their great potential.

How do you do in this regard? Who are the great influencers in your life who seems to have this knack for understanding what drives others and even what holds them back? Can you duplicate their thought process?


If you’d like to listen to my chat with David in which he shared numerous, hard-hitting and valuable ideas from his new book, click on http://bit.ly/ytSKI3

Have you registered yet for “The Go-Giver Retreat” to be held in Sunny South Florida? Find out who the world-class presenters will be, and what they’ll be sharing with us.


14 Responses to “The Need to “Get Inside Their Head””
  1. Steve Boyett said at 12:16 pm on

    Awesome!!! Thanks

  2. Bob Burg said at 1:13 pm on

    Thank YOU, Steve!

  3. Linda Ryan said at 2:33 pm on

    What a great post AND great interview!
    I have to say (I don’t HAVE to, but I want to) THE best way I have found to “get inside someone’s head”, is to apply The Five Laws of Stratospheric Success, especially the Law of Influence. By putting other’s interests first, I focus on what THEY want or need, which may or may not be what I want or need. When I try to imagine what they want or need it allows me to wonder what’s going on inside their head. I think it’s amazing what our intuition can do when we ask the right questions, like “What does he/she need?”

  4. Bob Burg said at 2:41 pm on

    Wow – thank you, Linda. Beautifully said, if I may say so (and, I’m assuming I may) 😉 Really, thank you; what a great explanation. Putting other’s interests first is indeed what the great leaders do, which is what allows them to be such great leaders.

  5. Doug Wagner said at 4:56 pm on

    Great post.

    I certainly don’t like the idea of messing with somebody’s head, even in sports I would want to win because I played better and not because I threw them off their game through some nasty trick. That being said there is a certain amount of messing that is ok in sports and part of the game. I am talking the dirty stuff.

    I know I hate it when sale people try to manipulate me through such tactics as well.

    Now gettting into someone’s head with the idea of understanding their perspective and helping them better is totally different. The motive is good. Not sure I am good at it but we can only start by trying.

    I think this is an essential skill for business and the value creation.

  6. I love this post and COMPLETELY agree with what Linda said 🙂 I am reading Leading with Luv by Ken Blanchard and Colleen Barrett of Southwest Airlines and I love the part about their customer service pyramid. Theirs is a little different than most organizations in that it is upside down and that the most important person in their organization is the customer. They truly look to fulfill the needs of the customer and the People in their organization who take care of the customers before the needs of their Top Leadership. There are so many other examples in the book as well, about how they lead and bring out the best in each person, each who works for them and flies with them, that I believe Colleen would be a great example of a person of this caliber.

  7. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 12:05 pm on

    What a great subject!!!! And such an important point Bob – I simply LOVE this. It is true, you should only follow the minds that closely of those you want to take to your heart and mind. I believe you do that best by LISTENING and duplicating. You also have to be in present time to be able to duplicate properly, otherwice you “bend the truth”. You can pick noones brain unless they allow you to, and that requires TRUST. Trust is build over time.
    Thank’s Bob 🙂

  8. Bob Burg said at 3:55 pm on

    Doug, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Christie, I agree with you agreeing with Linda. LOL And, yes, Southwest is such a great example of this. I can’t wait to hear Colleen speak at our upcoming, “Go-Giver Retreat.” Thank you, my friend!

    Lene, thank you. I appreciate your sharing with us!

  9. Me too! I was excited before, but after reading the book, I really can’t wait.

  10. Gary Glass said at 1:42 pm on

    What a fantastic and incredibly underutilized method of influence.

    Bob – I often wonder how many sales professionals are missing perfect opportunities to grow the quantity and quality of their professional relationships, because they choose to take a self-centered approach to their business; instead of one that is grounded in genuine empathy. I think when this is done effectively, not only does the relationship development accelerate, but the length of a sales cycle decreases just as quickly. Its not some magic 8 ball – its simply a desire to create dialogue instead of a sales pitch, and almost supernaturally encourages the other party to volunteer their fears – aka sales objections. This is the part of any transaction or relationship that still gets me fired up. Have a good weekend my man.

  11. Bob Burg said at 2:14 pm on

    Gary, most excellently stated, my friend. I agree with you completely. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us!

  12. Don said at 4:42 pm on

    It is written, “There is more happiness in giving, than in receiving” “Love our neighbors as ourselves”.


  13. Don said at 4:46 pm on


  14. […] Last post we looked at wisdom from YUM! Brands Chairman and CEO, David Novak. In his great book, Taking People With You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen he discussed the importance of “Getting Inside The Heads” of those you wish to influence. In other words, it’s not enough for you to want or desire a goal, you must know what motivates and drives the people you wish to take with you. This, via genuine interest and caring regarding their needs, wants, goals and desires. […]

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