The truth hurts and shames us, which leads to indignation, defensiveness and even attacks. That’s why before voicing criticism it pays off to consider if the relationship is strong enough for critique, if you’ve done your homework well enough and if your phrasing is sufficiently tactful.
Do I really have to argue? Couldn’t I just focus on my work?
Sorry to be the party killer but you already know that you can’t.
More often than not we need to win others over and reason our decisions and solutions. We are forced to explain our work to people who don’t have the faintest idea what it is that we do and why the thing we just did is the best thing ever.
Sometimes those people are our bosses who stare at us over the table in our one-to-one. Other times it is the colleague (or spouse), who simply will not listen. Most often it is the customer, who has strong opinions but little knowledge of the matter at hand.
The less the other participant seems to understand us, the colder the sweat that creeps down your spine. What else is there to do? What else can I possibly say?
Start with these
Ask for precise and specific feedback on a topic you’ve chosen yourself to work on. Then it’s easier for people to give you useful and concrete feedback, and it’s easier for you to receive it and use it to improve yourself.
Dogged by imprecise promises, stretching schedules and constant hurry, clients aren’t used to someone making a clearly defined promise – let alone keeping it.
Trustworthiness is the sum of credibility, reliability and intimacy, divided by self-orientation. This equation explains why it’s more important to care than to always be right.
Using an echo allows the listener to understand that you didn’t quite understand that one bit. However, the echo doesn’t claim that the other person’s explanation was somehow bad. It asks for clarification, but at the same time leaves it open what information, or how much, they should add.
How about when once I simply told my customer “no” and they took it just fine? Does this prove that your “yes, and” tool is actually not needed at all?
Stop the press! It is time to add some new things on the agenda of your next Monday meeting. If your boss was in the Nordic Business Forum, there are the themes, problems and ideas you should bring up with her now when the time is right.
We would of course prefer if only the content of the speech would matter. But the truth is, we don’t trust a speaker who doesn’t have a convincing body language. The good new is, we have been born with an ability to stand convincingly.
When you want the decision maker to be on your side, it is important to address the right person in the meeting. The one who actually affects the decision – instead of the nice dude, who already agrees with you.
“So that X understands” is an impossible assignment. We cannot know for sure how somebody understands. So it is hideous instruction, although the one who gave it, cannot be blamed.
These too are worth your while
This somewhat old and largely quoted TED talk is what they call a cornerstone content. The message is clear: people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. So in order to sell, to inspire action, to win people over you need to start with why. That is how great leaders inspire action, but it is also how we as human beings inspire action. So start by watching this TED talk from 2009 to start with why.
What do powerful speakers around the world and across centuries have in common? They talk a lot about others, quite little about themselves. The green, blue, red movement has analysed influential speeches. It helps you to assess the tone and content of your speech and how it affects the outcome. Watch the excellent talk at TEDx Turku by Esteve Pannetier from 2013.