The biggest lesson you need to learn if you want to grow your influence is thinking about what the other person wants.
Well, it could be (this is a long, but by no means exhaustive list):
Your direct report
Of course, it is possible that sometimes what you want and what the other person wants are very different from each other. In that case, you have lots of options, for example:
- You could find a middle ground that holds some appeal for you both
- You could concede to them on a particular point or let them ‘win’ this time- either because it is more important to them than to you, or because you want to gain their trust in the long term
- You could convince them that your strategy is the best by considering their arguments carefully and dealing with each in turn
- You could find a way to help them ‘sell’ your ideas to their other key stakeholders who they might have to convince
Here are 5 reasons why thinking about what the other person wants matters so much:
1- It forces you to focus on what you can give in the interaction, not what you can get. If you think about what you can give, you are more likely to be able to convince the other person than if you just focus on the outcome that you want.
2- It fosters deeper relationships. It shows the other person that you care about building a long-term relationship with them and aren’t just trying to win in the short term.
3- It creates a better world! If everyone thinks more about what other people want we will get a less selfish and fairer world.
4- It encourages you to be curious and means you never stop learning. To understand others you need to learn more about them and about their viewpoint. If they don’t think like you, why is that? If you were coming at things from their perspective and had their knowledge, what would you feel? How can you learn more about them and what they care about?
5- It helps you refine and perfect your ‘offer’ for the future. Every time you learn something new about the other person and every time you hear their objection to your offer the closer you are getting to offering something that they want. It might be that with a few small tweaks (for example, having the same offer but finding a better way to communicate it to them in a language that resonates), you will be able to have a breakthrough.
So, how can you make sure that in every interaction you are thinking of the other person, what they want and what would make them happy?