Customers don’t want service. They want things that don’t need any service. They want maintenance-free, self-contained solutions, whenever possible. That’s not just chat-bots and other forms of artificial intelligence. It’s a solution that fits their belief system.Continue reading
How To Be Right Without Making Other People Wrong
What exactly are we trying to accomplish by proving to others that we’re right?
We might win the argument but ultimately lose the relationship. Perhaps a better, deeper-rooted question is this: Why do we lose sight of success, of our big objective when we feel challenged or intimidated?
Generations Working Better Together
What do we need to do to work more effectively with each other as a team?Continue reading
Selling Your Ideas: Getting People To Agree With You
Why is it that some of the best ideas are never considered and idiotic concepts that we know will fail are?
How did AT&T decide to focus on the picture phone and sell off the rights to the cellular telephone? Research clearly showed that the number-one reason people placed a phone call instead of showing up in person was speed and convenience. The number-two reason was they did not want to be face-to-face with the person they were calling. If you are at home on the phone in your underwear, do you really want people to see you? (OK, some of you do, and you know who you are, but let’s move on.) Why did it take so long to get squeeze-bottle ketchup? Squeeze-bottle mustard was on the market 20 years earlier! Were there really people who believed that ketchup in a glass bottle was sacred and could never sink to the lows of a seemingly misguided mustard?
The issue is that some of us are just much better at getting people to agree with us than others.
It’s why it took so long for people to wear seat belts and yet pet rocks sold instantly. We interviewed some of the most persuasive people in the Wynn Solutions top-performers research pool and found some interesting information about getting people to see things your way regardless of how ineffective your ideas may be:
- Find out what people value most before you start talking. People are much more likely to listen to your ideas if you can prove you know what’s important to them first (agreeing that it’s important will also help a lot).
- Make sure your ideas are clear. It does not matter how smart you are if no one knows what you’re talking about. You may need to have your top expert teach their concepts to your top presenter. A lot of great ideas are not considered because people don’t want to admit they don’t get it.
- Make sure you can explain the basic value in about 20 seconds. People buy into what they can understand quickly. “The longer it takes you to explain value, the more people think you don’t have any.” Show how it will make the person(s) you are talking with look good personally. What’s in it for them?
- Show the similarities first and differences second. The main reason people don’t want to change is that nobody wants to be a “senior beginner.” When things change, people are afraid their expertise will have less value—they may not be as important to the organization as they used to be. Show how the new way is similar to the old way first, and then the new way feels more valuable.
Our research showed that ideas have to be more than great. They have to get supported by humans as they make their way toward implementation. Some pretty weak agendas get moved forward because they are presented 10 times better than an agenda that was …well … 10 times better.
Leadership Integrity: The Foundation of Everything
It’s no mystery that we expect our leaders to tell us the truth — and we hope…Continue reading
I’m Sure You Are Intelligent: I Just Can’t Tell That By Talking To You
The ability to read people’s emotions, understand what they value and make sure they feel valuable does not make you a genius. It does, however, make you the kind of person every company needs and an extremely important member of any team.Continue reading
How To Get People To Listen To You: Over-the-top influence
Leadership and communication skills mean nothing if no one wants to listen to you. Many knowledgeable, committed people have zero personal influence simply because they are not interesting. We have all been bored by someone to the point where we imagine ourselves on a Caribbean beach sipping a big umbrella drink and listening to metal drum music. That’s right – we will choose the sound of someone beating on harmonically modified oil drums as we sport embarrassing beverages rather than stay tuned in to information that just moments ago we thought would easily hold our attention.
On the other hand, we watch people on reality shows who are seemingly devoid of value, babbling about stuff we can’t even relate to, much less learn anything from that remotely applies to our own lives. (I won’t name names but it starts with a Kar and ends with a Dashian.) What is it that makes something we truly want to know unbearable and makes useless drivel so appealing? Is it a big personality?
I don’t know about you, but I have had to relocate on a mercifully semi-empty airplane because my seatmate had too much personality. It’s easy to say we choose entertainment over education. (If that’s true, why can’t I stop watching Antiques Roadshow?) We can’t get the education we need to forward our lives because we won’t take the time to study, but we will watch Honey Boo Boo and Swamp People until we begin to develop grammar problems! We can’t focus while at work, but we come home to watch someone do their work on TV. Recently, a very honest woman struggling to sell real estate told me she was not willing to work late because she wanted to watch a show every night about real estate gurus easily selling mansions.
Contrary to what we have been told most of our lives, it seems that we are oddly interested in things we can’t relate to very well. For instance, if you can’t sell a fixer-upper in a questionable neighborhood, then watching a show about superstar realtors selling 30,000-square-foot houses supports my theory. When it comes to shows like Hoarders, we watch and feel better knowing that our messy house is not so bad. Interestingly, though, we won’t clean our house in response; instead, we watch as someone cleans the hoarder’s house. Actually, the show makes most people decide to stay in their relationships because you are less likely to gain 100 pounds and sleep on a pile of pizza boxes if you have a roommate.
General Hospital is still on TV while PBS, which airs some of the best documentaries we’ve seen in years, struggles for funding. Great shows end because they run out of ideas after five seasons, whereas General Hospital has had a 50-year run and hasn’t changed a bit. Sure, some characters who’ve died have come back to life, and sometimes the series just switches actors in a key role, as though no one will notice. It’s just not very realistic … and that’s what we like. What family has someone in the hospital every week? If you knew that family, would you want to hang out with them?
In that same vein, science fiction and fantasy are the top movie and TV draws. From Star Warsto Game of Thrones, we can’t get enough of shockingly unrealistic concepts that try to deliver a moral message. What have I learned? Be nice to dragons and always hang out near the escape pods!
In short, we choose escape over importance, spectacle over value, reality TV over reality. Consequently, if you want to get people to listen to you, you need to start with an over-the-top story that makes others feel like they could never achieve such a lofty, unrealistic dream. Or, if it’s over the top in a negative way, it should make them glad that this mesmerizing train wreck did not happen to them. We don’t care for personal tragedy, but we will actually pay to see the misfortunes of others. That’s why your college professor who told weird and probably untrue stories had so much impact on you. It also explains why you slow down to look at accidents even when you are late for work.
Armed with this insight, what can we do to make sure that people absorb what we want them to hear?
- The most ridiculous, outlandish story you have needs to be put to good use. Points are easy; good stories are hard to come by. Take a great true story (embellishments are OK; you can even admit you’re exaggerating as you tell the story) or an untrue story you can use as metaphor and find the points you need. You can adjust the story to fit your points, but keep in mind that it requires focus. Saying “Hard work creates opportunity” is easy; getting a great story to illustrate that point is much tougher. I once heard a former IRS tax attorney talk about some intensely boring subject matter, but he used really crazy stories about agents tackling celebrities in their front yard and people trying to deduct payments made to prostitutes. I still remember his basic points about record keeping and how to make sure you’re maximizing deductions but playing by the rules. I don’t want to be tackled!
- Make sure you start with the problem or issue, then the solution, and finally why the solution is valuable. This order is important for impact. Even the worst reality show with the lowest production value is easy to follow. You can present an over-the-top problem that you solve with a straightforward solution and then a dramatic, metaphorical explanation of value. If you can be funny, be as funny as you can. (If you are not funny, don’t be.) Humor that works always gives you an advantage. We can remember a good joke we heard two years ago, but we don’t recall what we had for lunch two days ago.
- Be aware of what your audience values and believes in, even if it’s an audience of one. TV and movie companies do lots of research on this and create things that match what they know about the viewing public. If you know people who really dislike a particular sports team (that’s weird, I know, but it happens), then being over the top in a negative way grabs their attention. I spoke at an NFL event, at a pre-Super Bowl meeting attended by fans and staff of only one of the teams. There had been recent news coverage about players saying negative things about the team I was speaking to. It had gotten out of hand. I mentioned that I had a desire to fight the other team’s mascot because he was annoying – and that I was qualified to do so because I had once taken down Barney in an ugly altercation in a Toys R Us parking lot. They cheered and clapped for a full minute. Then I made my point: Sometimes the best action is restraint, followed by introspection. To win, we must keep a cool head and not be distracted by our personal resentments. I admitted to the large crowd that extreme loyalty to a football team was not my issue. I clearly have a problem with people in big furry animal suits. I trace it back to a Disney trip at age 11 when Goofy and I had it out over a funnel cake.
To ensure that we are seen as interesting, we have to be realistic about how people respond and what they respond to consistently. Being sincere, factual, relatable, relevant, and on point can never compete with a personal, colorful, funny, over-the-top, hard-to-believe story or metaphor with a good, solid, easy-to-understand solution or idea that focuses on delivering value to the listener. Here’s the proof: Whether you liked this article or it rubbed you the wrong way, you seemed to have no problem finishing it!
Freaking Out Is Not A Lifestyle
It indicates that stress is more about how you feel or think about things and only loosely connected to what’s actually happening. In other words, life is not stressful; it’s what we believe about life that is stressful.Continue reading
Who Wants A Job Where It Is Never The Boss’s Fault?
The only way to effectively hold others accountable is to first hold yourself accountable in front of them.
As a leader, if you want employee engagement and long-term influence, you must take a look at the role you’ve played in your team’s problem and make sure your people know that you’re examining your own involvement. When you do that, your group’s level of animosity (if any) drops, your skills and communication improve, and you create a sustainable culture of accountability.
This is not an opinion or an idea; it’s how human nature affects a situation if we allow it to take its natural course and we are honest with ourselves. It’s also an overall conclusion drawn from decades of Gallup studies. It’s why some leaders who regularly unveil mediocre ideas from the latest book they’ve misinterpreted have the undying loyalty of their people, while brilliant strategists with good track records run off top talent. Have you ever wondered why highly skilled people who don’t apply themselves for one leader can hit home runs for another? Think about it. How hard would you work for a boss who never claims a role in any mistake?
If we want people to perform at the highest level, to buy into change and to adopt new processes with minimal errors and complaints, they have to feel their leaders are willing to accept responsibility. Then your team is positioned to perform its best. You will never really know how good your people are until they know you are accountable. It’s what many leaders rarely do and what the most successful always do!
Inclusion + Tolerance = Employee Engagement: Creating a diverse culture that drives performance
Having a culture that includes and supports all people is more than just a moral obligation. It is a critical and commonly overlooked ingredient for success. An alloy is stronger and has more applications than something made of just one material, and research shows the same is true for high-performance teams.Continue reading