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Posts Tagged ‘Adversaries into Allies’

“People Wisdom” from Gandhi

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

people-wisdom-gandhiIn his terrific new book, Reinvent Yourself, prolific author, entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster, and serial reinventor-of-self, James Altucher shares a ton of wisdom. Included are lessons from business titans to historical figures; world-class athletes to top entertainers, and many more.

And, in his usual humble, self-effacing way, he shares golden nuggets of wisdom from…himself as he takes their lessons and serves them up to us through the filter of his brilliant mind.

While this is not a review of his book (though I recommend it highly), there’s a quote I’d like to share and then provide my own thoughts afterwards.

On page 168 James points out that Gandhi never actually said the oft-quoted, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” However, he did say something perhaps even more profound:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

Rather than go through each individual line and thought in the Mahatma’s magnificent statement, let’s look at what I underlined, beginning with, “If we could change ourselves.” This informs us that we have a lot more potential to influence the world around us than we might believe. As we deal with others on an individual level, to the degree which we are in control of our own emotions, that’s the degree to which can positive effect – and yes, change – their attitudes.

In Adversaries into Allies I suggested the following:

“Expecting someone to be helpful doesn’t change them, it changes you.  And that is what changes them.”

In other words, regardless of their natural or current state, if you go into the transaction believing they will be kind, helpful, and gracious…YOU will take on the corresponding attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. And, the chances are excellent they will respond to that.

Always? Of course not. This isn’t magic. There are all sorts of people. But…usually?


Yes, it begins with you. You and your emotions are the only element of the equation that you can control. Change yourself, and watch how the world changes for you.

So, you can indeed become the change you wish to see in the world.

A Tale of Two Frames

Friday, August 14th, 2015

It was the best of frames, it was the worst of frames. We’ve often discussed frames and framing in this blog. A frame can be defined as the foundation from which everything else involves.

In Adversaries into Allies: Master The Art of Ultimate Influence I say that when you set the proper frame for any encounter, you are 80 percent of the way toward the outcome you desire. And, the outcome you desire is obtaining the results you want while helping the other person to genuinely feel good about themselves, about the situation, and about you.

In other words, a true win/win. So, while visiting with my dear friend (and mentor) Dondi Scumaci and her husband Mark, I had the opportunity to hear from Dondi an experience she had in which two companies having the exact same desire…had two different ways of communicating it. One was an excellent example of positive framing while the other was an excellent example of…well, not so much excellent framing. 🙂

In this conversation with the always-wise and fantastic Dondi, we learn what happened.


Dondi Scumaci - Cultures reflect themselves


Amazing, isn’t it? More importantly, how will you take this lesson and make your future framing similar to and as effective as the positive example? Any similar stories you’d like to share with us? Please feel free to do so.


TECHNICAL NOTE: If you are having trouble playing the interview, please make sure Adobe Flash Player is installed in your web browser. If not, then download Flash Player. Or right-click here and select “Save Link As…” to download the audio file to your computer.

Missing The Communication Target?

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Adversaries into Allies - Bob BurgI’ll never forget when an early business mentor told me, “Burg, when the shooter misses the target…it ain’t the target’s fault.”

The older I get, and the more I study influence and communication, the more correct I believe he was.

How often do we try and get our point across but fail? It seemed that “what (s)he thought I said isn’t what I meant.” Or even, “what (s)he thought I meant isn’t what I said.”

Whose “fault” is this misunderstanding? Who is to “blame?”

I believe the answer is . . . “it doesn’t matter.” In my opinion, fault and blame are both irrelevant.

On the other hand, if we were to ask whose “responsibility” it was for the message not being received as intended, I’d say it is the sender’s.

Yes, the onus is on the communicator to ensure their message is understood.

When the late, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, in his classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggested (in Habit #5) that we “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” he was certainly right on the mark. Doing so is vitally important in the communication process.

Both parts are important. Here, however, we are referring to the second part of that Habit.

You were not understood. Your message missed the mark. It did not hit its intended target.

If that’s the case, first, take responsibility for it. Then, look at why it happened and how to more effectively communicate that message next time.

Nine times out of ten, the major reason was that two different belief systems – yours and theirs – were at work in some way, confusing the issue.

And saying nine times out of ten is probably underestimating the cause by about nine tenths!

Key Point: Be sure that what you said and meant…is what they heard and understood. How? Ask enough clarifying questions to be sure.

The anguish it will save is well-worth those few extra moments.


So happy to announce that the paperback edition of Adversaries into Allies is now available. If you would like to accelerate your people skills and Master The Art of Ultimate Influence…you may purchase the book on amazon.com or at your local bookseller.

Beware The Manipulative Frame

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Beware The Manipulative FrameIn my book, Adversaries into Allies, the fourth principle of Ultimate Influence™ is “Set the Proper Frame.”

A frame is the foundation from which everything evolves. Set a frame of kindness, cooperation, win/win and benevolence and a very mutually beneficial result will most likely occur.

It’s powerful. Set the proper frame and you are 80 percent of the way to a successful outcome for everyone involved.

On the other hand, be wary of those who use this concept in order to manipulate you.

I was recently watching an advertisement. After a clever opening, the presenter made a statement that was a bit surprising. In a rather offhand, very informal way, he said (slightly paraphrased to disguise the actual company)…

“Of course, everyone knows that every six months you should
recheck your Widget.”

Immediately, I thought, “Hmm, I didn’t know that. Good to know.”

Then, returning to “consciousness mode” (i.e., “thinking”) I wondered, “Did he just set a frame intending to manipulate me into believing something he wants me to believe?”

It was now time to check premises. This begins by asking ourselves questions. In this case, they included, “Why is that statement true?” “Does everyone really know that?” “Does everyone agree with that statement?” “Is this a proven fact?” “Why does he want me to think it’s obvious” (he said, “of course”)? “What would happen if I didn’t recheck it?” “Why six months and not three months or nine months or a year?”

And, one more question I asked myself. This is key and something to always keep in mind whenever you feel manipulation might be at play:

“Is this a frame that — later on — is somehow going to show up as an important reason for taking the suggested action?”

And, indeed, it absolutely did.

Several times he referred to how his product will specifically allow you to check every six months in order to…

Now, the point of this isn’t whether or not his product was good, worthwhile, or even necessary every six months.

It’s simply to be aware that when someone states something as fact, and in such a way that you suddenly feel compelled to believe it, consider whether or not they might have an agenda. And, how this new “fact” might actually be a frame; a frame intended to move you to an action that benefits them and not you. What they say might be true. Just be sure that you are consciously making that decision.

Yes, as an Ultimate Influencer you will always set a frame for mutual benefit. However, not everyone will.

But, you already know that. Now you know one way to spot it.

How to Let Someone Down Easily

Monday, February 10th, 2014

How to Let Someone Down EasilyThis post is longer than usual. And, while this reader’s situation might not be one you’ll ever have to face, someone you know — including your child — might.

Regardless, the principle involved should still come in handy in your dealings with others.


A college student, “Patty” wrote:

“I finished Adversaries into Allies and found it to be incredibly useful. While I was reading the section about saying no I thought of a scenario that wasn’t directly addressed and now find myself actually in it. I’m wondering how your advice for saying no translates into personal relationships. I’m in college and a boy in my class last semester asked me to get coffee. Thinking it was casual (telling myself it was casual) I agreed and we have been in e-mail contact ever since. He’s now referred to our correspondence as dating which, in my mind, it definitely is not. Is there a way to politely say no while still maintaining this new friendship?

My reply:

Thank you for your nice note and kind words about the book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Regarding your question, yes, that is always a difficult situation, regardless of age. Obviously, you don’t want to unintentionally lead your friend on to thinking that what you have is more than friendship but you also don’t want to needlessly hurt his feelings, and you’d like to keep him as a friend.

Depending upon whether you feel as though you could more kindly but effectively let him know by email or by phone, you can choose one or the other.

You could say or write something along the lines of…

“I was a bit surprised when you mentioned in a recent email that we were “dating.” While I appreciate your compliment, it’s not how I understand it. I hope you are okay with our just being friends, which I’d enjoy.”

If you’ll notice in the above, Patty, just as in the chapter about saying no, I didn’t include any excuses. Also, not knowing him personally and if he is rational (and, thus, can simply accept his mistake without feeling victimized and blaming you), I didn’t include any apology or add anything about you being the cause of the misunderstanding. Sometimes, it is okay to put the “onus” of the misunderstanding onto oneself even when that’s not really the case (in order for the other person to not feel defensive or blamed — remember the “I-Message”). But in this case I felt it best not to go that route so as not to give him something to grab onto. Again, just in case he is too emotional about it.

Yes, these are always difficult situations at best. I hope thinks work out. Please let me know.

Patty responded:

“Thank you so much for your advice. I emailed him and wrote almost exactly what you suggested and it worked perfectly. We are on the same page now and it wasn’t awkward or uncomfortable like I was imagining it would be. Thank you also for explaining why you didn’t include an excuse. My first instinct, even after reading your book, was to apologize for any misunderstanding because I wasn’t sure what other way to go but what you said made a lot of sense. Again, thank you for response.”

I wrote back:

My pleasure. I’m so glad it worked out! Indeed, it is very tempting (and certainly intuitive) to make an excuse or to blame oneself in that situation in order to let the other person down easily or take the pressure off. Very important in this case not to, again, only because in case he was irrational or had tendencies to be, I didn’t want to provide him with any emotional ammunition to blame you.

I remember many years ago reading a book about stalkers and one important piece of advice the author gave was that, with many of them, if you give them an excuse they’ll take that literally and believe that “if it weren’t for ________ she’d then want to be with me.”

In other words, if you say that it’s because you’re already involved with someone then they will think, “Well, if she wasn’t involved with him we could be together.” (Talk about dangerous.) If you say that you have a busy schedule then they’ll think, “When her schedule slows down we can be together.”

And, if you blame yourself for the misunderstanding, that can cause them to feel like, “oh, it’s all her fault, she deserves whatever happens.”

Of course, both are totally, totally illogical conclusions for the stalker to make but, by the very nature of what they are, logic doesn’t enter into the equation.

So, not that I’m thinking that your friend is a stalker, of course. Just not wanting to take any chances.

Sounds like you handled things perfectly.


{Note from Bob: Have you joined our Go-Givers International Membership Community? If not, visit www.GoGiversIntl.com and join us today. For just $19.97/month (for first 1000 members), our two monthly calls and closed discussion group can make a huge difference in both your business and personal success. Plus, check out the bonus gift just for joining!]