Business is a logical process carried out by psychological beings. Therefore, logical arguments alone will rarely suffice to get everyone to fully buy in to what you have to say. It helps to understand the psychological needs of your audience too. Therefore, when trying to convince other to go along with your ideas at work, here are seven pointers that may be helpful to keep in mind.
- When delivering a message that may be received as critical, often it helps to begin by sharing a positive message first. For example, constructive feedback might sound something like this: “Mary, I know one of your goals is to get promoted to the next level, and my job is to help you get there. One way I am going to do that is to share with you all the things I see you doing that are on track with your goals, and what I see you doing that may hold you back.” Then share behavioral examples in each instance.
- Remember that when you are trying to convince someone of your ideas, it’s not about your psychological needs, it’s about theirs. Therefore, read your audience and behave accordingly. For example, let’s say you are not one for social chit chat at the beginning of meetings. But perhaps you work with folks who need a little time to warm up first. Adapting to their needs may help them feel more comfortable, and therefore more receptive to what you have to say once the meeting commences.
- Try to avoid imperatives when possible. People sometimes resist when they are told they “must” or “should” or “have to” do something. Even if they agree with your point, they may resist reflexively if they feel pressured, and the words I listed above can trigger such pressure. So, offering “suggestions” or “things to consider” may feel less threatening and give people the psychological room they need to be more open to what you have to say.
- It’s okay to express and talk about emotions. In fact, it’s essential. Why? Like gas does for our cars, emotions fuel our behavior. Ignoring emotions is like ignoring putting gas in your car: eventually you’ll come to a dead stop. So if you think people may be afraid or angered by what you have to say, address it directly. Saying something like “I know some of you may have fear or concerns about this particular issue, and let me see if I can address that” goes a long ways to quelling those fears or concerns in the first place.
- Read your written communications out loud and/or run them by someone else before sending them out. Hearing your words gives you insight into how others may hear them when they read them. And someone else may better pick up on ways to shape your message by anticipating reactions that you may have overlooked. Better safe than sorry is the applicable aphorism here.
- Employ the power of yes/and. I learned this concept from Dan Klein of The Stanford Design School. Dan teaches that if you comment on someone else’s idea by saying “Yes, but” you can unintentionally shut down their openness and enthusiasm. If, however, your rejoinder is “Yes, and” it can open the mutual lines of communication and collaboration between you both.
- Listen. People will be much more likely to consider your positions if they feel you genuinely care about and listen to theirs too. So ask questions, listen to answers, and ask follow ups. Together, you are more likely to get to a better answer than either one of you may on your own.
Bottom line: Getting others to go along with your ideas goes beyond capturing their head with logic. If you can capture their head and their hearts, then you’ve got something.