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Archive for the ‘WWI’ Category

Doing Persuasion Right

Friday, October 31st, 2014

Doing Persuasion Right - Bob BurgWe often see people say and do things when attempting to persuade that bring them the very opposite results they desire. They’ll argue, plead, beg or scream before finally walking away in anger and frustration.

It’s much more fun to watch someone really doing it right.

Even better, through observation we can use their example to more effectively handle our own similar potentially difficult situations.

It was about 8:00 a.m. as I brought my cup of coffee and a book into the lobby of the hotel. My program wasn’t until late afternoon and it seemed like a great opportunity to relax and do some reading. Sitting across from me, unaware of my presence, with a cell phone to her ear and jotting notes, was a woman with a pleasant smile on her face.

If I hadn’t been eavesdropping…er, uh, I mean sitting in a place where I couldn’t help but overhear her talking :-) I’d have thought by the look on her face that she was on a call with her spouse or best friend. She wasn’t. She was trying very diligently to straighten out an issue that left someone without some important documentation.

She pleasantly (that word again) hung up and went to the front desk to ask if they would send a fax for her. Granted, this was a wonderful, service-driven hotel, but even if not they wouldn’t have turned down her request.

She came back to the chair opposite me and, for the first time realizing I was there, very sweetly apologized for bothering me by “talking while I was reading.” I told her it was quite alright, absolutely no bother at all, and that I was enjoying watching her so excellently handle this obviously difficult situation. With a genuine sense of peace she explained that it would all be handled and that everyone involved was being very patient with her.

Influence and Persuasion Lesson: People tend to reflect your attitude right back to you. Or, “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him/her by another.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 27:19)

The process included several more trips to the front desk and calls to various people. She apologized when she had to, encouraged when she needed to and smiled genuinely the entire time. Her mission — whatever it actually was — was accomplished.

Of course, before she left, I had to ask her the secret to her great attitude and way with people. She summed it up in two phrases: “I live in gratitude,” and “Most people are nice if you treat them as such.”

Simple, elegant, influential, and persuasive.

Those Self-Justifying Feelings

Friday, March 1st, 2013

those self-justifying feelingsIn Daniel Goleman’s classic, Emotional Intelligence, he writes:

“Feelings are self-justifying, with a set of perceptions and ‘proofs’ all their own.”

How true, isn’t it?

As human beings we tend to believe what we want to believe, based on our feelings. We then back up those emotion-based beliefs according to information congruent with what we want to believe in the first place. As for those pesky and inconvenient facts? Typically, they are pushed to the side so as not to interfere.

How very often do we see this in…others? ;-)

This is one reason why trying to “convince” (from the Latin, convincere meaning “to overcome”) someone with logic alone rarely works. When caught up in emotion, the person will unconsciously disregard any information that contradicts what they believe they already know and seek and accept only those info-bits in alignment with his/her emotional decision.

Before allowing themselves to consider another’s viewpoint, they must first “buy into” that person. Only then will their reactionary defense mechanism relax and they can be open to a new idea. Because they feel good (emotions), they will allow new information into their world.

We know we see this in others. But…”how often do we see this in ourselves?”

Do we need to first buy into the other person emotionally in order to accept the facts as they are — not necessarily as we’d like them to be? Or, are we able to stay conscious of our own unconscious desire to be right – and adjust our conclusions accordingly?

Anyone can be the first way. Those who are more personally and professionally effective and successful, constantly and consistently work on being the second way.

How do you do in this regard?

The Hidden Meaning of Brutal Honesty

Friday, January 25th, 2013

brutal-honesty-boxing-glovesThose who take pride in being “brutally honest” are typically more interested in being brutal than they are in being honest.

Indeed, sometimes difficult and uncomfortable things need to be said (and honesty in saying them is very important!). Usually, however, they can be said with tact and kindness.

Being “brutally honest” is often more about the person speaking than about the person they are speaking to.

When I posted this on my Facebook page I received lots of comments; most in agreement. But, several people seemed to equate tactful, diplomatic honesty with a lack of authenticity. I’ve seen that same sentiment expressed in other posts and articles, as well.

Hmmmm. That concerns me.

Why? Because, I cannot understand why that dilemma would even come into play? In other words…

Why would someone believe that honesty must necessarily include brutality?
And, for that matter, that to be less than brutal in your honesty is to somehow be less honest or authentic?

Sure, there’s a time and place for most things. And, a small percentage of the time, there might need to be brutality in that honesty.

But, that’s a small — an extremely small — percentage of the time.

Usually we can be honest in such a way that it effectively communicates the point while still allowing the other person to feel good about themselves. To strengthen rather than diminish.

As my friend, People Skills Authority and Coach, Kate Nasser teaches, “Civility doesn’t weaken your message; it helps others to hear & embrace it.”

And, a very tough but successful General and later U.S. president, Dwight D. Eisenhower even said: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.”

And, I believe it’s the same when dealing honestly with anyone.

What do you think?

3 Reasons For Answering Your Critics

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr.In his draft of an excellent, soon-to-be-released book on leadership, Pat Sullivan, a long-time and hugely successful university coach and administrator, raised a very interesting point regarding handling critics and their criticism.

He referred to Dr. Martin Luther King’s great insight into this topic at the beginning of his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, written in response to eight white clergymen who criticized his involvement in the Birmingham Campaign:

“Seldom, if ever, do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all of the criticisms that cross my desk…I would have no time for constructive work.”

A marvelous insight. And, as leaders and influencers, we will have critics.

Should we answer them? Like most things, I think it depends. We certainly cannot respond every time or we would indeed fall into the trap pointed out by Dr. King. At the same time, never responding would be counterproductive, as well. Utilizing discernment is important.

The following three reasons would seem to indicate the proper time to respond:

  1. The critic has a point and the criticism is valid (it takes humility to recognize this).
  2. Even if the critic is wrong and the criticism not valid, it might be a question that many others have. So, answering in terms of clarification could be very important.
  3. Answering the critic and criticism — valid or not — is an opportunity to teach others how a leader/influencer handles criticism. This can serve both as a teaching lesson to others as well as strengthen the credibility and influence of the leader.

Have I left anything out? How do you deal with the critics? Do you feel that leaders who don’t care at all about the critics are more effective than those who do? Or, are they less effective?

Of note: At the conclusion of the above quote by Dr. King, he wrote, “But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.”

Wow…What a leader!

Exactly When Should We Agree to Disagree?

Friday, December 21st, 2012

disagreementSometimes, we’re just not going to successfully move a person to our side of an issue.

He or she is so deeply rooted in an ideology or philosophy that to change would be a renunciation of their individual, long-standing and deeply entrenched belief system.

Politics is a somewhat easy example to cite.

Despite the old admonishment to not discuss politics in polite company, it makes sense that, if we believe a certain thing to be important regarding our country, we are naturally going to want to persuade others toward that same end.

And, when approached correctly, there is no reason not to.

How we go about the persuasion process is important. We’re much more likely to be successful when coming from a place of respect rather than anger and vitriol.

I personally found the back-and-forth arguments I observed on Social Media during the recent presidential campaign — filled with personal, vicious and hateful insults toward those who disagreed with one another — extremely disappointing. I doubt that many opinions were ever actually changed, but I don’t doubt that friendships (or potential friendships) were harmed.

Of course, even with rational, respectful disagreement, that doesn’t assure persuasion.

So, I believe the question then is not, “should we talk about a certain topic?” but “when should we stop talking about that topic?”

I believe the answer is when you and the other person have reached a crossroad; that point where any further discussion cannot possibly help your relationship, but might just hurt it. At that point it is best to respectfully “agree to disagree.” This honors the person’s right to believe a certain way without agreeing with that way.

One benefit is that it leaves them much more open to your other ideas when you speak again. And, maybe you can even re-visit the current idea. This could never happen without their trust that you will — in the end — respect their right to believe what they choose to believe.

Yes, because the person knows you will not try to coerce or bully them into accepting your opinion, they’ll actually be more open to the possibility of embracing your opinion, should you be able to make your point persuasively enough.

Sure, know what to say and how to say it. And…know when to stop saying it.


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