How to increase our influence.  It’s not what we think.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” said the attendee at one of Stephen Covey‘s workshops. 

The stakes were high.  

“All of my eggs were in this one basket.  All of them,” the man shares in Stephen’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  He was trying to close a big commercial real estate deal in Chicago and all the signals indicated he was going to lose.  

“So I said to myself, ‘Well, why not try it?  Why not practice what I learned today and seek first to understand, then to be understood?”

He was able to secure a final meeting with the prospective client.  “I just said to the man, ‘Let me see if I really understand what your position is and what your concerns about my recommendations really are.  When you feel I understand them, then we’ll see whether my proposal has relevance or not.’

“I really tried to put myself in his shoes.  I tried to verbalize his needs and concerns, and he began to open up.

“The more I sensed and expressed the things he was worried about, the results he anticipated, the more he opened up.

“Finally, in the middle of our conversation, he stood up, walked over to the phone, and called his wife.  Putting his hand over the mouthpiece, he said, ‘You’ve got the deal.”

“I was totally dumbfounded,” he said. “I still am this morning.”

What happened here?

It’s an inside-out approach. 

When we really listen and empathize, we become influenceable. 

And, being influenceable is the key to influencing others.

By going into a deep listening experience, we open ourselves up to being vulnerable.

When we present our ideas clearly, specifically, visually and most importantly, contextually in terms of a deep understanding of other people’s paradigms and concerns – we significantly increase the credibility of our ideas.

The paradox: In order to influence, we have to be open to be influenced.

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Reflection:  Think back on a time when being open to being influenced led to a win-win solution.

 Action: Approach a conversation today by being open to being influenced.

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