Monday, December 04, 2006

Wouldn't You Like To Know What They Really Think?

Article: Wouldn't You Like To Know What They Really Think?

Today I kick off the first in a series of Influence and Persuasion articles that can be used in a number of situations but are especially effective in an office environment. They are designed to give you a little bit of an extra edge when you want to influence or persuade someone in many situations that are common across every office world.

Setting The Scene

I'm sure you've been in a situation before when you put forward an idea or proposal and you're just not too sure if the people or person you are talking to really like it. This can be used when presenting ideas to your peers or your boss but is really effective if you are the boss and want some feedback from your reports.

People don't always feel comfortable criticising the boss so they don't speak up and you miss out on some potentially valuable feedback. This short series of questions will sort this right out.

Underlying Concept

The concept behind it is simple. You get the person to agree that they like your idea. The word like is key here. The word like says that they think it's good BUT that it could be better. In essence you are using language to influence them into telling you what they really think.

Example 1

You: do you like about that idea as a possible solution to...
Them: I like it, it sound fine to me.
You: Good, well what would it take for it to be even better?

They have admitted that they like the idea. You have asked what would make it even better. This does two things. First is allows you accept that it is good but also admit that there may be room for improvement. Second, it allow them to feel comfortable giving you some extra feedback.

Example 2

You: Do you like the document I've produced to....?
Them: Yes, it's good, I like it.
You: Just for my curiosity, what would you have added to the document? (or how would you have done it differently?)

In example two she may well be telling the truth and really think the document is great; however you have elegantly opened up a chance to allow her to give you some feedback without feeling uncomfortable. Remember you asked for the feedback so don't then go on the defensive if it's not what you want to hear!

So in a nutshell: Ask them for some feedback, let the person respond, then ask in some way how it could be even better.

Cheers for now,

Jason D
Total Influence And Persuasion

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