Effectively Influence with Respect
By Roger Ellerton Phd, ISP, CMC, Renewal Technologies Inc. www.renewal.ca
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Each and every day, a large percentage of our communication is focused on influencing or encouraging people (including ourselves) to buy or buy-into an idea, request, service or product. For example: mulling over the possibility of buying a new computer, encouraging a child to go to bed, asking a friend or family member to do something for you, inviting someone special to go to the movies, presenting an idea to your boss, selling a product or service to a potential customer or developing a marketing plan for a new product. And how effective are you in influencing with respect to the other person's needs?
Often we are not as effective an influencer as we would like because we do not have clarity on one or more of the following:
- Our own needs, beliefs and values.
- The needs, beliefs and values of those we would like to influence.
- Potential alternative approaches.
- The impact of subsequent actions on the larger system (e.g. family, work environment).
Being able to look at a situation from different viewpoints can be very informative and can help you to modify and present your idea, request, product or service in a manner that is more acceptable to others. For example, a discussion between a mother and father over piano lessons for the oldest child may look very different from the perspective of the parent who values the arts, the parent who is looking for ways to save money, the oldest child, the other children, a non-involved friend or the overall healthy functioning of the family.
NLP's (neuro-linguistic programming) perceptual positions are ideally suited to addressing these different perspectives, thus providing valuable information or insights into how effective your current communication methods are (including choice of words, tone of voice and behaviors) and possible alternative approaches that may yield better results. The four perceptual positions are:
- First position - your own perspective, filtered by your own beliefs, values and needs.
- Second position - the other person's perspective, taking into account (to the degree possible) their beliefs, values and needs, without in any way superimposing your perspective. Some people have difficulty fully accessing this perspective as "parts of themselves" creep in and distort the perception.
- Third position - the perspective of someone who is totally independent.
- Fourth position - the perspective of the larger system (e.g. your family, workplace, team). Assessing the short and long-term impact of your approach on specific individuals within this system can be very informative.
Consistent effective communication is based on respectfully presenting ideas, products or services to others with a full understanding of their needs, stating the benefits from their perspective and being aware of the consequences of your actions.
Those who are great communicators/influencers regularly, at a conscious or unconscious level, access and use information from all four perceptual positions. However, in some contexts, you may find yourself 'locked-into' accessing information from only one or two of these perspectives. This can be limiting as each perspective has its advantages and disadvantages:
- First position.
- Seeing the situation only from your perspective, provides you with a clear understanding of what is important to you.
- People who choose to primarily live their lives in this way may be viewed by others as self-centered.
- Second position.
- Appreciating the other person's needs, as viewed through their beliefs, values and background, provides you with an opportunity to construct solutions that will respect their needs.
- Experiencing your tone of voice, choice of words and body language from the other person's perspective can provide you with valuable insights as to why they react as they do when in a conversation with you.
- People who choose to live their lives mainly from second position are very aware of the needs of others and may not be aware of their own needs or their needs may become secondary to those of others.
- Third position.
- Taking an independent stance allows you to avoid being dragged into the drama of the situation and you can more easily provide a third party perspective on how you could do things differently to get a more useful result.
- People who choose to live their lives in this way may not fully experience excitement, love and connectedness with others. They may be viewed as detached or aloof.
- Fourth Position.
- Being able to see the big picture - the interaction of all members of the system (family, work, team, etc.) - you are able to notice where things are working well or need improvement and can assess the potential consequences of your actions.
- People who choose to live their lives from fourth position may focus on the perceived good of the system (e.g. family) and the needs of those who are part of the system, while not being aware of their own needs.
To improve your communication and effectively influence with respect, recognize those times and places where you experience a situation primarily from one or two of the four perceptual positions. Once you recognize these situations, get curious and explore what new information or insights can be discovered by looking at the situation (past, current or future) from other perspectives and the potential for alternative approaches to provide potentially different results.
Author: Roger Ellerton is a certified NLP trainer, certified management consultant and the founder and managing partner of Renewal Technologies. The above article is based on his books Live Your Dreams Let Reality Catch Up: NLP and Common Sense for Coaches, Managers and You and Win-Win Influence: How to Enhance Your Personal and Business Relationships.
Copyright © 2008 Renewal Technologies Inc. All rights reserved.