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The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

Most persuasion advice is riddled with all of the things you ‘should’ do to get people to do what you want. It ranges from the ‘you catch more bees with honey’ philosophy of being nice and diplomatic, to a more forceful approach of making people do what you want now… ‘or else’.

You’ve probably found that being ‘too nice’ makes people take you less seriously, or that what you’re asking doesn’t matter. On the other side of the coin, being a dictator plants seeds for resentment and rebellion–a lethal combination if you want people to cooperate willingly.

While many persuasion principles hold true–like having a deadline or using authority to inspire action–there’s one 6-word phrase that seems to have been forgotten: Why haven’t you done this yet?

If all we’re doing is coaxing and cajoling people by making the prize of obeying sweeter and sweeter, we actually miss out on a precious learning opportunity. Asking the question “Why haven’t you done this yet?” gives you deep insight into what is holding people back from doing what you want, and the intelligence to create a course of action from there.

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What exactly will that phrase (or a variant of it) reveal to you, and how can you use it effectively? Here are three case-studies that show how you can apply this phrase.

1. How Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, helps his clients be more productive.

Greg’s book, Essentialism, discusses the idea of pursuing what really matters in life, and ruthlessly eliminating what doesn’t. In his work with corporate clients and executives, he recounts stories of how productivity suffers when people don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, or why. The question that he asks is “What’s preventing you from completing this?” and he uses that to find out exactly what’s in the way and systematically remove the obstacles that prevent people from getting tasks done. This means employees are not only happier, but they’re accomplishing more than they ever could before.

This story illustrates that the way to move people in the direction of a goal is not won through means of manipulation or threatening to keep them past midnight. This 6-word question helps you see exactly why your other tactics might not have been working, saving you both time and energy from trying the next persuasion technique and simply finding out what matters to who you’re talking to.

2. How Million Dollar Consulting author, Alan Weiss, regularly closes 6-figure+ proposals.

The ‘Million Dollar Consultant’, Alan Weiss, generously shares his knowledge of how to get started and succeeding in consulting in many of his books, one of which tells of the exact questions he asks clients before he ever draws up a proposal.

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And what’s the ‘million dollar’ question?

“What would prevent us from getting started on this work tomorrow?”

It’s an 11-word question that reveals the same answer as our 6-word question does. He’s trying to find out what might prevent his potential client from signing with him, perhaps an objection or fear they hadn’t yet discussed.

What’s potent about this is the consequences of not asking this question. If you don’t have the full picture, it’s easy for you to make assumptions — to assume that the client is ‘dumb’ for not wanting to work with you (when the reality is maybe they have a personal problem that would prevent them from signing the contract) — and it means that you don’t truly understand who you’re talking to. Why someone “should” do something is not enough, because it doesn’t address the mental barriers that they have about your product or service. We may think there must be something wrong with them, but the reality is there often are deeper reasons why it’s not working that range from the psychological, to their environment, to available resources.

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3. How I avoid 99% of petty arguments with my partner.

The best part about this 6-word question is that it not only applies to productivity and business, but to your personal relationships.

We’ve all heard about partners who nag on each other for not taking out the trash or making the bed, but that nagging assumes that your partner doesn’t want to do it because of either a character trait (like laziness) or because of you. It’s when you take it personally, that not emptying the dishwasher turns into a heated battle.

After being a relationship for 10 years like I have, you learn which of those battles to fight and which ones to drop because they’re just not worth it. And the last thing I want to do is argue about taking out the trash. So instead of nagging on your partner for why he or she hasn’t done what you’ve asked, despite you ‘being nice’, you want to understand what is preventing him or her from doing in the first place! Maybe in your partner’s mind, the task is less important than the joy of planning a date with you. Or maybe he or she is waiting to take out the trash until the day before the garbage guy comes. Your responsibility is to put your assumptions and side and find out what’s at the heart of the matter.

What to Do Today

If you’ve been spinning your wheels with trying to figure out how to get that one person to do that ‘thing’ for you, now’s the time to practice using this question and reap the rewards.

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One word of caution: This question is not meant to be asked in an angry tone like “Well, why haven’t you done it yet?” as you tap your foot with the impatience of someone who never gets their way. The question is meant to be asked in a softer tone, frustrations aside, and out of curiosity — because you actually don’t know the answer. It’ll not only make you more persuasive with half the effort, but it will improve your ability to empathize and communicate with anyone and get what you want the easy way.

Featured photo credit: Woman Standing On Red Rocks Celebrating Success via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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