inCredible Messages Blog

Latest "Influence" Posts

Got Leaky Communication?

Do ever wonder why two seemingly cooperative people can walk away from a conversation knowing they haven’t connected?   Why two people addressing the same problem can’t hear each other’s point of view?  Why communication can be so frustrating and inefficient?

Authors of Difficult Conversations (researchers at the Harvard Negotiation Project*) claim every conversation involves three levels.  When one party is addressing one level and the other is addressing a different level, misunderstanding is inevitable.  When the misunderstanding occurs, we often assume the other person is being deliberately difficult or obtuse.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Influence, Leadership.

Need to Influence Stubborn & Defensive Colleagues? Change How You Say It!

Would your job be easier if your colleagues weren’t closed minded, stubborn or defensive?  Are you sick of wasting time trying to persuade negative people who just won’t move forward?  Take a deep breath because the problem just might be you!

Since all communication takes place in a context, people’s reactions to your ideas are related to your reaction to theirs.  For example, when you disagree with an idea that is presented to you, are you ajudger or a describer?

Intelligent and decisive people are often in the habit of judging ideas quickly and critically—no matter what the source of the idea.  There’s nothing personal about this—it’s just critical thinking.  You are talking as a judger when you make statements like these:

  • According to the research, that won’t work because…
  •  The employees will never accept the change…
  •  That didn’t work the last time we tried it…
  •  The numbers will never work…

A judger decides “yes” or “no” on ideas quickly, building cycles of defensiveness along the way. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Five Keys to Credibility at Work

When asked about the definition of credibility, you might say, “I know it when I see it,”—like I know friendly or likeable.  When pressed, however, do you really know the definition of credibility?

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is an academic or unimportant question.  Credibility is positively correlated to success in every sphere of life.  If you can’t define credibility or identify its elements, you can’t take advantage of opportunities to boost your credibility and your success.

Identifying the elements that make up credibility is important because a high score on one or two elements does not guarantee a high credibility rating.  It’s the interplay between elements that matters.  Once you know the elements and see your strengths and weakness, you can take positive steps to boost your credibility in the eyes of others.

Credibility Element #1: Integrity

A key element of credibility involves transparency, trustworthiness, and moral predictability.  We feel good about people who embody the phrase, “what you see is what you get.”

From Webster’s perspective, integrity is the essential element. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Simple Steps to Increase Your Power to Influence

In today’s organizational environment, credibility and influence are more important than ever.  That’s why we should pay attention by research done by authors Kouzes and Posner over a 25-year period.  These authors asked people to give specific examples of what their most admired leaders did to gain their trust and respect.  They asked what leaders did that caused others to be willing to follow their lead, to be influenced by them.  Here are some of the most frequently mentioned behaviors:

  • Supported me
  • Had the courage to do the right thing
  • Challenged me
  • Acted as a mentor to others
  • Listened
  • Celebrated good work
  • Followed through on commitments
  • Trusted me
  • Empowered others
  • Made time for people
  • Admitted mistakes
  • Advised others
  • Taught well

Chances are you aren’t surprised by the answers—you already knew them.  Even so, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that these behaviors are all about service and integrity.  A significant component of the power to influence comes from supporting others and helping them grow and develop.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

What Kind of Contagion Are You?

Scientists can now verify—by recording physiological data as two people have a conversation in a lab—that one person transmitting an emotional signal can literally alter the person receiving the message in the following areas:

  • Hormone levels
  • Cardiovascular function
  • Sleep rhythms
  • Immune functions

Of course, you don’t need a laboratory to know that a charged emotional episode can leave you physiologically altered for hours.  We say things like, “My colleague made me so mad that I couldn’t sleep all night.”  We know that bad moods and negatively-charged episodes are bad contagions.

What we seldom realize is that the reverse is also true.  Good moods and pleasant encounters are good contagions.  Research shows that managers who are optimistic have statistically higher rates of employee retention than those who are negative.  Professionals who are upbeat and likeable are more successful at winning commitment and cooperation than those who are not.

The key principle here is to practice a positive attitude and communication style—because you are a contagion in the lives of others–for good or for bad, like it or not. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Tips on Persuasion: Don Quixote Style

Do you remember Sancho Panza, the faithful squire of the legendary Don Quixote?  He left his home and family to serve a crazy old man who thinks he’s a knight.  In the play, Man of LaMancha, when he is asked why, Sancho bursts into song, “Because I like him.  I really like him. . . .”

If Don Quixote has earned its place in history, so has the principle of persuasion described by Sancho.  Behavioral researchers consistently find that we are inclined to respond positively to people whom we like.  That means we buy from those we like, we accept their proposals, we comply with their requests, and we refer business to them.

This principle is simple, and it’s good news to people who are naturally charismatic.  But what about the rest of us?  What can we do to use the principle of likeability to achieve positive results?

Look for Similarities. 

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Prerequisite to Persuasion

The skill of persuasion can seem difficult and elusive, belonging to a small group of elite and successful individuals.  In its essence, persuasion is really a straightforward two-step process:

  1. Identify the other party’s priorities
  2. Connect your desired outcome to the other party’s priorities

It’s simple.  If the other party is convinced that your product or service will shorten the time and effort needed to achieve what he most wants in the world, he will be eager to buy.

The supremely tricky thing, of course, is identifying the other party’s priorities.

The problem isn’t necessarily that the other party’s priorities are difficult to discern.  The problem is that we are so immersed in our own priorities that we make unwarranted assumptions.

  1. We assume that other people are, in essence, just like us, even though they have different exteriors.
  2. We also assume that people will see obvious connections between what we offer and the outcomes they are seeking to achieve.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in How to Persuade & Gain Commitment, Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Skip the Apology: Retain Your Presentation Credibility

An accomplished physician and researcher from Puerto Rico was presenting at a conference of her peers in the United States. “First,” the doctor began, “I want to apologize for my English.”

Sitting in the audience, I felt the energy drain out of the room. Audience members collectively caught their breath, preparing to sit through a problematic presentation.

I wanted to rewind the tape and skip the apology. Like other speech coaches, I advise against apologizing in a speech—especially during the introduction.

A primary goal of an introduction is to establish the speaker’s credibility. To begin with an apology is to begin by undermining your own credibility and set a negative tone for the presentation. Not only did the doctor’s apology expose a lack of confidence, it diverted attention from her expertise. The apology was entirely unnecessary—the doctor’s skills as a clinician and a researcher had earned her the right to present.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence, Secrets to Powerful Presentations.

Abe Lincoln on the Power of Story

You are preparing for an important presentation before an executive committee or customer. Chances are you’ve spent hours crunching numbers for this event. You’ve probably prepared PowerPoint slides and graphics. But have you spent equal time on your images? Have you carefully prepared word pictures or stories to illustrate and support your points?

For most of us, analogies and word pictures are like icing on an already tasty cake—a nice addition but not essential. The most powerful communicators have a different view. Check out the following quotes shared by Dr. Terry Paulson, Certified Speaking Professional and award winning communicator, in a recent talk:

I do not seek applause…nor to amuse the people. I want to convince them. I often avoid a long and useless discussion by others or a laborious explanation on my own part by using a short story that illustrates my point of view.

Abraham Lincoln

Every one of his [Lincoln’s] stories seems like a whack upon my back.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence.

Heard Any Good Questions Lately?

Lots of people tell me they want to improve their writing or speaking skills. Fewer people express interest in improving their listening skills. A stark minority even thinks about skills in asking good questions.

Yet, the questions asked, or not asked, dramatically impact conversations. For example, with the right question, you can steer Great Aunt Sophie from talking about her gall bladder to talking about her life during World War II.

While the ability to guide a conversation through questions is always useful, it is invaluable in professional conversations when the stakes are high. People who are good at selling ideas, services, and products are usually good at using questions to get others in the conversation to talk.

People like to talk, and when you listen to what they say, you provide the gift of respect. In turn, you may receive surprising gifts of information:

  • A ranking ordering of a decision-maker’s or department’s priorities
  • The obstacles various people perceive to meeting those priorities
  • The criteria by which specific decisions will be made
  • Advice about what how to present a winning case

Next time you hear a good question in a professional setting, make a note of it.

Posted by Bonnie Budzowski in Multipurpose Content, Influence.