Breaking Through Dams on the River of Understanding

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you become even more influential. Reading time: 3:01.

        You are the subject-matter expert in your company, the sharpest saw in the shed in your field. Yet every time you try saw through a concept with a customer, those BLOCKHEADS seem to get thicker and thicker. What can you do to help your audience’s soak up your message more fully?

Hoover Dam

      Stop sawing. Start watering.

     Turn your faucet of information on slowly, watering only when the customer says they are thirsty. Yet too often over-zealous experts are too quick to flood their audiences with information.

     And audiences are even quicker to build a dam to protect them from those flood waters.

     But a particular audience will open its dam if it believes the speaker’s water (i.e. message) will flow into its own stream.

    Audiences will open their dams if they think your water will fill – and more significantly FULFILL—their own personal pipelines — without polluting their values, beliefs and concerns already flowing in their personal streams of consciousness.

     You can influence your audience to soak up your message when you recognize that the meaning of the word “influence” stems from the the Latin to “flow into.”

     When you influence others, you flow into their feelings so fully that they can be move to purposeful action, as James MacGregor Burns notes in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book on Leadership.

                 With a focus on “flowing into” rather than “sawing through” your customer’s thinking is seen as an extension of your own thinking. Then your audience–your customers– come to regard you as a resource more than just a source.

    Becoming a Resource More Than Just a Source

        As a resource, you become a fountain of knowledge available to your customer when they are in need of a drink on THEIR terms rather than an oasis in a desert available only on your terms.

      Building a drinking fountain available as needed rather than forcing your audience to herd around YOUR oasis  is the difference between influencing and persuading, between injecting hope and injecting heroin, according to author James Cribbin writing in his book  Leadership Strategies for Organizational Effectiveness.

       In fact, the Greek word for “persuasion” is “to sweeten.” The more sugar you get the more you want. And like injecting heroin,  persuasive “shots must be progressively more frequent and stronger  to satisfy. You keep giving to get. And that’s costly.

     Even moe dentrimental  with persuasion, Cribbin adds, is that the persuader sees himself or herself as psychologically superior. And a persuader invariably floods the customer with too much information instead of whetting their appetites.  With a FLOWING  fountain of knowledge.

Today’s ImproveMINT

Flow into the ideas of others to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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