When you want to change someone’s mood, tell a story

Today I finished reading the book “Thank you for Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs. Heinrichs uses historical figures like Cicero and Homer Simpson from fact and fiction to illuminate the art of argument.

The book is written in a hilarious tone with lots of asides for pro tips on how to argue more effectively.

I had a hard time deciding what to post because there’s so much good content in this book. Today I want to focus on the topic of persuasion.

“Persuasion can attempt to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors. In business, persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person’s attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object, or other person, by using written, spoken words or visual tools to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination thereof.” – Wikipedia

Persuasion gets a bad rap because of all the negative attention it receives. Books like The Hidden Persuaders and Influence shine a negative light on persuasion. They talk about how it can be used to compel people to do things they don’t want to do or that could even harm them.

Each of us uses persuasion on a daily basis. We need to use persuasion to communicate our needs, assess the needs of others, and work together to create win win situations like Stephen R. Covey talks about in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

In order to persuade someone, you need to sound like him.

“You persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his.” – Heinrichs

The audience only cares about three things. Have you prepared? Do you know what you’re talking about? And what do you have to offer me?

“Persuasion doesn’t depend on being true to yourself. It depends on being true to your audience.” – Heinrichs

Heinrich encourages readers to keep the three parts of the proposal firmly in mind as you are persuading:

“Every proposal should have three parts – payoffs, doability, superiority. Describe the benefits of the choice, make it seem easy to do, and show how to it beats the other options. You might even keep your audience in suspense, not telling them your choice until you have dealt with the alternatives. Rhetoric is most effective when it leads an audience to make up their own minds.” – Heinrichs

Don’t think you’re getting through to the person you’re trying to persuade? Are they expressionless in the face of your crystal clear valid points? You might need to change up your strategy.

“When you want to change someone’s mood, tell a story.” – Heinrichs

Finally here’s one of the pro-tips Heirichs shares in the sidebar of the book. The idea is to show the audience that you are just like them. It’s called the Pratfall effect:

“Reveal a weakness that wins sympathy or shows the sacrifice you have made for the audience.” – Heinrichs

How do you persuade in your work and life? Have any horror stories of taking persuasion too far? Contact me I’d love to hear about it!

Don’t fight the trail. Take what it gives you.

513zzb8xfrl._sx322_bo1204203200_I started running 5 miles every other day a few months ago when the stay at home order started.

I’ve stuck to that schedule ever since. I’m finding that running does 3 things for me.

First, it clears my head. Second, it makes me think faster. And thirdly, after running I just feel happier – like hard things are somehow easier.

Today I want to discuss the merits of running as they have been outlined by Christopher McDougall in his book, “Born to Run.”

At the end of this post I’ll share the most surprising thing I learned about running from reading this book.

“‘Try the meditation of the trail, just walk along looking at the trail at your feet and don’t look about and just fall into a trance as the group zips by,’ Kerouac wrote. Trails are like that: you’re floating along in a Shakespearean garden paradise and expect to see nymphs and flute boys, then suddenly you’re struggling in a hot broiling sun of hell in dust and nettles and poison oak… just like life.” – Christopher McDougall

Life is tough. There’s no doubt about it. Running shows me that I have  more power and potential than I thought.

“Beyond the very extremes of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own: sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” – William James

But then how do you turn the fatigue into energy?

“Strictly by accident Scott stumbled upon the most advanced weapon in the ultrarunners arsenal: Instead of cringing from fatigue, you embrace it. You refuse to let it go. You get to know it so well, you’re not afraid of it anymore.” – Christopher McDougall

Running gives me the tools I need to deconstruct life’s problems and find solutions.

“The only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.” – Christopher McDougall

Running makes me feel as strong as Superman.

“If there’s any magic bullet to make human beings healthy it’s to run.” – Christopher McDougall

Benjamin Franklin worked on problems while he slept. He discovered that if he went to sleep thinking about a problem, more often than not, he’d wake up with a solution. Sometimes running is like this. And sometimes it’s not.

“If you don’t have answers to your problems after a 4 hour run, you aint getting them.” – Christopher McDougall

Sometimes people think running is all about competition and proving that you are stronger, better, and faster. Competition gets in the way of running. I run to get outside myself.

“The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other, he understood. But to be with each other. Scott learned that before he had a choice, back when he was trailing. He was no good and had no reason to believe he ever would be, but the joy he got from running was the joy of adding his power to the pack. Other runners try to disassociate from the fatigue by blasting iPods or imagining the roar of the crowd in an Olympic stadium, but Scott had a simpler method. It’s easy to get outside yourself when you’re thinking about someone else.” – Christopher McDougall

Running doesn’t require special equipment. You don’t to rally a team. You can just go outside and run at any time.

“I keep thinking back to the way Garp used to burst out his door in the middle of the workday and go for a five mile run. There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure. We run when we’re scared, we run when we’re ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time.” – Christopher McDougall

There you go. We’re nearly finished. I’ve discussed the reasons I run as they have been outlined in Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run.”

I run because it clears my head. I run because it makes me think faster. I run because I just feel happier. And now as promised, here’s the most surprising detail in the book.

Running has always surged when there is a national crisis.

“And when things look worst, we run the most. Three times, America has seen distance running skyrocket, and it’s always in the midst of a national crisis.” – Christopher McDougall

Thanks for reading. Keep running!

“You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running.” – Christopher McDougall

Did this post resonated with you? What book do you think I should read next? Please let me know!

Negotiate to gain the time you need to find the truth

51vcylss4nl._sx322_bo1204203200_ In the last post on Vietnamese nail salons, I discussed the power of sharing a story and the social currency it earns. This week’s post let’s cover how to be a good negotiator.

When I think of a negotiator I think of the movie by the same name starring Samuel L Jackson. Here’s the IMDB synopsis of the film,

“In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.”

Do you think about hostage situations when you hear the word negotiator? My goal today is to get you to think about how you are a negotiator. Except we aren’t talking about taking hostages to get your job back.

What do you do when you need time to gain the truth? You need to listen. You need to learn to allow the person you are negotiating with the feel heard, understood, and not pressured to do what you want them to do.

Today I want to focus on the most surprising quotes from “Getting to Yes” by Fisher, Ury, and Patton. Looking over the list the quotes I’ve selected they boil down to the following takeaways:

  1. Allow others to talk themselves out because this allows them to feel heard and it allows them to speak out their grievances so there is more room to negotiate.
  2. Know what you want to accomplish before even starting.
  3. Ask questions instead of making statements.

Now that you know what we’re going to cover, let’s dive right in.

“Allow the other side to let off steam. Often one effective way to deal with people’s anger, frustration, and other negative emotions is to help them release those feelings. People obtain psychological release through the simple process of recounting their grievances.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Sounds easy enough right? Just sit back and let the person talk until they have recounted their grievances. Not so easy to sit back and not say anything is it? It’s even harder not to flinch or defend yourself when they are saying something untrue.

“You offer little little support to the inflammatory substance, giving the speaker every encouragement to speak himself out, and leave little or no residue to fester.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Once the speaker is speaking, do not interrupt. Make space for discussion and get them to feel comfortable around you.

“The cheapest concessions you can make to the other side is to let them know that they have been heard.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Again, just shut up and take the easy win. Once you’ve given them a chance to discuss their grievances they feel better.

“People listen better if they feel you have understood them.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

On top of just allowing them to let off some steam, your ability to let them fully speak out their thoughts will give you super powers.

“They tend to think that those who understood them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Be sure to stack your reasons up before you go in for your request.

“If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Generate a ton of options before you start trimming the fat and honing in on your wants.

“By looking from the outset for the single best answer, you are likely to short circuit a wiser decision making process in which you select form a large number of possible answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

What do you do if the person starts attacking you and blaming you for the problems they are experiencing?

“Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem. Sit back and allow them to let off steam.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Always stick with questions.

“Ask questions and pause. Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton

Now that you know how to make people feel comfortable around you because you have heard their grievances, shared that you understand them, and asked them more questions instead of telling them what to do, they will be more willing to listen to your concerns and more open to negotiate.

Have you had a chance to use the suggestions in this post in your life to negotiate with someone? How did it go? Email me, I’d love to hear about it.