In business and in life in general, the ability to move people to your point of view is a rare skill. I’m talking about setting out a better way forward that you passionately believe in, that cuts through bias with impeccable logic but addresses the emotion on the table from both sides.

I’m sharing below a model to consider when you next try to move someone to your point of view. Now a little health warning. It has limited success on teenage daughters and in the world of politics! But for everything else, its pretty good.

The Model

The model has three basic elements.

The first stage is understanding why someone holds that specific belief and what supports their world view. Only by understanding that can you convince them of a better way.

The second stage is to landscape why the current situation isn’t working. Awareness is everything. This has the effect of changing the person’s assumptions, which you understood from the first stage.

The third stage is to explain why your idea accelerates remedies or improvements to the current situation. In a business setting, this third stage is aligned to the strategic plan, to make your idea compelling, and to quantify the hard (ROI) and soft (the qualitative improvements) deliverables.

That’s it. Firstly clarify why someone believes something, secondly set out the facts as you see them to show the current landscape which is clearly not working, and finally set out an insightful better way forward that would clearly improve the current situation.

The system needs practice and that takes time. It requires empathy which few people are prepared to genuinely show. It requires research to understand the current situation. And you have to be really good at asking smart questions and hearing the answers.

Operator Tips

Here are a few Operator Tips relevant in a business setting:

  1. Ideas need to be linked to strategic plans. Management’s role should be to align everyone’s efforts and activities to execute the strategic plan – employees need to frame their ideas in a way that explains why executing this idea will help achieve the strategic plan.
  2. Understand the real organization structure of influencers. To get traction for an idea you may have to influence many influencers before sitting down with a decision maker.
  3. Be ready to translate your narrative into a business case on a quantitative and qualitative basis
  4. The best ideas do not always come from the CEO! Don’t be afraid to present a well thought out proposal to your line manager. The best leaders will allow the best ideas to travel upwards with your name attached.
  5. Specifically in formal negotiation meetings e.g. M&A, commercial contracts, listen very carefully (with your eyes and your ears) and keep emotions in check.
  6. Passion can be powerful but there is a very fine line separating passion from anger. Passion with calmness is a lethal combination!
  7. People underestimate the importance of demonstrating you’ve heard the other side. When people think you’ve stopped listening, it’s game over.
  8. The word “help” is underutilized in negotiations. As in, help me understand why you believe that.
  9. Don’t rush. For whatever reason, sometimes it’s better not to come to a conclusion at that very moment. People underestimate the importance of time outs – whether that’s for half an hour or a week, depending on the negotiation.
  10. The most effective communicator displays impeccable politeness, logical clarity of argument, and a willingness to be wrong.

Good luck developing this precious skill. You can’t lead without it.

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Further Reading: Negotiation – My Best 20 Moves