The 101% Principle – a Key to Connected Influence

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I once worked with a woman who rubbed just about everyone in the office the wrong way.  She was really good at her job, as she and I had some shared interests, but we never bonded.  By the end of my time with that employer, I found it very difficult to socialize with her, though I still managed to work with her on professional matters.

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August 2015. Photo by Tasha M. Troy

I tell my students that any time you have two or more people in the same room, you’ll have disagreement and possibly conflict.  No one agrees 100% on everything.

However, it seems some people thrive on focusing on areas of disagreement while others seem able to get along with everyone.  What could their secret be?

John Maxwell, the most prolific leadership writer, talks about the “101% Principle,” which states that when you are interacting with anyone, you should look for the 1% you agree on, then give it 100% of your effort.  I believe this is the secret great connectors understand.

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A special moment with my mentor John Maxwell. Photo by Christian Del Rosario.

In order to give that 1% agreement your full effort, you have to take your attention completely off of yourself.  This is exactly what not only John Maxwell says but also Mark Goulston and John Ullmen in their book Real Influence.

While I sincerely believe any two people can not agree on all points, I equally believe the inverse is true – you’ll never find someone with whom you have nothing in common.  I challenge you to become a “common ground detective” with everyone you meet.  You will be surprised by what you discover!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barriers to Connected Influence in a Connected World

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Sherry Turkle explores the impact of technology use on society.  She speaks about “connection” as being friends or followers on social media and makes a point that we are now missing that deeper connection to each other in real time.

Dr. Turkle makes a couple of points relevant to our discussion of connected influence.

One of the reasons Dr. Turkle gives for our constant need for social media is the feeling we are not listened to.

That feeling that no one is listening to me is very important in our relationships with technology. That’s why it’s so appealing to have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed —so many automatic listeners. 

This highlights the importance, the extreme need for people to start practicing connective listening, at least momentarily setting aside the need to be heard and meeting someone else’s need to be understood.  

Another element of the situation is our deep aversion to quiet and solitude.  I, too, am prone to reach for my phone, check Facebook or Twitter, whenever I have a few minutes of down time.

Being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. And so people try to solve it by connecting. But here, connection is more like a symptom than a cure.”  

Remember, she is talking about the superficial connections we have on social media, not the deep interpersonal connections possible when we listen and understand each other’s stories.

In my opinion, social media “connections” often serve as counterfeits to real connection.  She says, “Solitude is where you find yourself so that you can reach out to other people and form real attachments.”

I would like to leave you with one final thought from Dr. Turkle’s TED Talk:

Human relationships are rich and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. And when we do, one of the things that can happen is that we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves.

I challenge you today to stop short-changing yourself and your relationships with the people around you.  Turn off your phones and be fully present for the important moments of your life.

 

Previous Posts on the Connected Influence Model

Where do we go from here?

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I have been watching current events closely.  It appears that the divisions in the US between different groups are only continuing to widen, and a resolution to our issues seems more and more unlikely.

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US Supreme Court, April 28, 2015; photo by Tasha M. Troy

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen clear evidence that the racial, social, and ideological divide (which I am trying to bridge) continues to widen.

  • The June 17 shooting at a historic Black church, killing 9 and setting off a series of church burnings.
  • The June 26 Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, causing great rejoicing at the affirmation of civil rights for some and deep mourning at the loss of civil liberties for others.

 

At this point, it seems the only voices I clearly hear are from either extreme end of the spectrum, spewing fear and hate; only those who are deeply entrenched in their positions are heard.  Under these conditions, the situation will only continue to get worse.  Some have voiced concerns of a coming race war; others fear the further loss of first amendment rights.  The future, indeed, looks bleak.

However, I believe that as long as there is life, there is hope.

Yes, I still hope that things can and will get better.  I believe communication is the root of all relationship, and if we are going to truly bridge the divides we see here in the US (and in other countries as well), we have to stop broadcasting our entrenched opinions and start listening.

In the coming weeks, I will write more about what I believe we as a nation need to start doing in order to begin healing the divisions and schisms among us.  I truly believe it begins with what Mark Goulston and John Ullmen call “connected influence.”  If you’ve been reading Bridging the Divide for very long, you probably know I think very highly of their book Real Influence.

I believe their four-stage model is the key to turning things around in our country.

  1. Go for great outcomes: the US was once considered the greatest nation in the world, but not today.  I believe the US can be great once more – if certain criteria are met.  (Clarification – I am not talking about “American Exceptionalism” here; I will write more of my thoughts about this next week.)
  2. Listen past your blind spot: we do too much talking and not enough listening.
  3. Engage them in their there: we have to meet others where they are, not expecting them to come to us first.
  4. When you’ve done enough … do more: there is no short-term fix; we have to take the long view and invest for the future.

In the weeks ahead, I will lay out my thoughts on how we, as a nation, can walk in connected influence in such a way as to bring healing to our society.  Yes, I know I am a bit idealistic, but I am still hopeful that we can find common ground and move forward as a nation.

 

Links and Resources:

Read my review of Real Influence

Website for Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

Series of blog posts by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen based on the concepts in Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In

YouTube Playlist of interview with Dr. Mark Goulston

Communication Fundamentals course on Lynda.com, taught by John Ullmen

 

Handling Conflict – The Competitive Style

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Conflict is a normal part of life.

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The US Supreme Court

I often tell my students that whenever you have two people in the same room, you will have some measure of conflict.

While conflict may be inevitable, it is how we respond to that conflict that can make or break a relationship.

 

The Competitive Style

I once had a roommate who enjoyed a good argument.  Early in our time living together, she once picked a fight with me over something really trivial.  I got really stressed and upset, but she later explained that she was just having fun.  This was not fun to me!

She clearly had a competitive conflict-handling style.  She enjoyed the pushback of a good fight, and she didn’t take the contest of wills personally.

One of the five conflict-handling styles described by Ken Thomas and Ralph Kilmann, the competitive style is usually characterized by a “winner take all” attitude and the use of force, power, or authority to impose a solution.

Often, those using a competitive style are seen in a negative light – the hard-nosed negotiator, the persistent salesman, the friend who always has to get the last word in.

Useful Points:

A competitive approach may be appropriate in times of emergency or when a unilateral decision needs to me made for the sake of time and efficiency.  There are times when a forceful approach is necessary and even may be the best way to approach an issue.

If a child wanted to run and play in the street, no one would criticize you for imposing your decision to play elsewhere upon that child.  Likewise, there are times when a leader may have more information about a situation when a quick decision needs to be made.

Drawbacks:

With that said, I recommend that this style be used sparingly.  When overused, it can damage trust and destroy relationships by violating all of the Five Core Concerns that are described by Dan Shapiro, the associate director of the Harvard Negotiation Project.  These Five Core Concerns zero in on the five emotional needs of any person you come in contact with:

1.  Appreciation – each person wants their efforts and experience to be recognized and appreciated.

2.  Autonomy – God made us with free will, and people tend to resent anyone who uses force, coercion, or manipulation to make them choose a course of action that they don’t want to choose.

3.  Affiliation – we are social creatures and all have a need to belong, to be a member of a group.

4.  Status – we all want to be treated with respect, no matter our position in the hierarchy

5.  Role – humanity is purpose-driven; we all want to know that our efforts are working towards a greater goal; we all want to have a part to play in whatever project is being pursued

 

If you want to maintain harmonious relationships, use the competing style rarely, only in truly emergency situations!

Links and Resources

Conflict Resolution:  Resolving Conflict Rationally and Effectively

An article that explains the five conflict handling styles as well as the “Interest Based Relational Approach” to dealing with conflict, an approach based on the concepts of the book Getting to Yes by authors Roger Fisher, William L. Ury, and Bruce Patton

5 core concerns

Check out the rest of this series!

The Avoiding Style

The Accommodating Style

The Collaborative Style

The Compromising Style

The Four Barriers to Connection – The Double Curse of Knowledge

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John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”IMG_7296

If this is the case, it really makes sense for us to learn how to connect better in order to have greater influence with the people around us. Today I’m wrapping up a short series on the four barriers to connection.

 

The Barrier:

The fourth and final barrier is called the double curse of knowledge. Barrier number three was about when you are wrong; barrier number four is about when you are right.

Many times we are so familiar with our topic that everything seems obvious to us, but to people less familiar, there might be large gaps of understanding when we try to explain our ideas or our position.

In the book Real Influence, authors Mark Goulston and John Ullmen describe this barrier as “it isn’t just about them not getting you. It’s also about you not getting them” (p. 31).

They say “the best influencers… understand that the double curse of knowledge is in play in all of their interactions. These people realize that it’s all too easy to overestimate their own clarity when they’re communicating, and they are aware that they’re not always getting the full message when other people are trying to get through. It’s this knowledge that saves them from appearing arrogant and condescending when people just don’t get it.”

A Personal Story:

A few years ago, had a student who was extremely resistant to feedback, or even doing the assignments as they were assigned. For six months, the faculty struggled to connect with the student and to convince him to cooperate by doing the assignments as required.

Finally, during the last couple months of the program, I had him as my student in a writing class. Each week he was required to submit a short assignment on a specific topic, but week after week he submitted something completely different.

Finally it got to the point where he was in danger of failing not only my class but the entire eight month program.  I sat down with him to convince him to complete his assignments so that he could pass the class.  During our conversation, it came out that he was trying to prepare an article for publication, and he would really rather have feedback and editing on that particular article rather than on the assignments that he was required to complete.

Once I understood his perspective, what his priorities were, I was able to propose a solution that he found acceptable. After our meeting, he completed all of his assignments as expected and was able to complete the program successfully.

The Solution:

The solution to the double curse of knowledge is to keep aware of your audience, to do comprehension checks regularly, and to not make assumptions about their background knowledge.

In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell describes five connecting principles and five connecting practices.   One of the connecting practices is that connectors do the difficult work of keeping it simple. John Maxwell gives five ways connectors can do this:

  • Talk to people, not above them
  • Get to the point
  • Say it over and over and over and over again
  • Say it clearLy
  • Say less

By using these five strategies, you can be more certain that your audience, whether it’s one person or many, is getting the message you intend to convey. In fact, I would venture that the larger your audience, the more important each of the strategies becomes.

 

If you would like to increase your connection skills, I would love to partner with you.  A mastermind group* centered around the book Everyone Communicates Few Connect is starting soon.  I invite you to join with like-minded individuals as we work together to take our connecting skills – and our influence – to a new level.

More information on the Everyone Communicates Few Connect mastermind group*

* “Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills.”  (quote from The Success Alliance)

“The Four Traps that Disconnect You” from Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.  Read my review of Real Influence

The first barrier: The Fight or Flight Response

The second barrier: The Habit Handicap

The third barrier: Error Blindness

 

 

The Four Barriers to Connection – Error Blindness

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John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them.”IMG_7291

If this is the case, it really makes sense for us to learn how to connect better in order to have greater influence with the people around us. Today I’m continuing a short series on the four barriers to connection.

The Barrier:

Barrier number three is error blindness.

How does it feel to be wrong? This is the question posed by Kathryn Schulz in her TED Talk On Being Wrong.  Most people answer “bad,” “not good,” “embarrassing,” “uncomfortable.” However, Ms. Schulz points out that those are answers to a different question – what does it feel like to realize you are wrong?

It is extremely rare that someone is intentionally wrong!  Ms. Schulz emphasizes that being wrong feels like being right.  This is error blindness.

When we are wrong but think someone else “just isn’t getting it,” we will make one of three assumptions:

  • the ignorance assumption – they just don’t understand so I have to explain it again;
  • the idiocy assumption – they’re kind of stupid, so I have to explain it again; or
  • the evil assumption – they get it, they’re just making life difficult for me.

Anytime we make these assumptions, whether we are in the right or not, it interferes with our ability to connect with the people we are interacting with.

A Personal Story:

I work hard to develop a connection with my students. I know that working with adults, if they don’t trust you, they won’t follow your instruction and therefore not succeed or grow to their potential.  I know I can’t please everyone, but for about 90% of my students I am able to connect with them.

One year I had a student who was very resistant to my feedback, very resistant to my teaching and coaching. Because I know I put a lot of effort into connecting with my students, I assumed the problem was on her end. I thought that maybe she just didn’t connect with my personality and teaching style.

However, through indirect methods, I learned that she had gotten the impression that I disliked her personally. When I heard this, I was shocked.  At that point, I had a choice, whether to believe what I was hearing and act on it or to continue assuming I was right.

Fortunately, I accepted the feedback and took deliberate steps to correct the misconception and to build a better relationship with that particular student. As a result, she became more open to feedback and coaching, and was able to complete the program successfully.

The Solution:

In order to escape from error blindness, we must seek to connect on common ground.

In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell describes five connecting principles and five connecting practices.  One of the practices is that connectors connect on common ground. He John Maxwell give several ways in which people can cultivate a mindset of common ground

  • Availability – spend time with others
  • Listening – understand the other’s perspective
  • Questions – be interested in others
  • Thoughtfulness – think of others and thank them
  • Openness – let people in
  • Likability – care about people
  • Humility – think of yourself less to think of others more
  • Adaptability – move from my world to theirs

As we practice these elements and establish a common ground, you’ll find that you are less likely to fall into error blindness because you’ll be open to other people’s ideas to begin with.

 

If you would like to increase your connection skills, I would love to partner with you.  A mastermind group* centered around the book Everyone Communicates Few Connect is starting soon.  I invite you to join with like-minded individuals as we work together to take our connecting skills – and our influence – to a new level.

More information on the Everyone Communicates Few Connect mastermind group*

* “Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills.”  (quote from The Success Alliance)

Kathryn Schulz: On Being Wrong

“The Four Traps that Disconnect You” from Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.  Read my review of Real Influence

The first barrier: The Fight or Flight Response

The second barrier: The Habit Handicap

The fourth barrier: The Double Curse of Knowledge

 

 

The Four Barriers to Connection – The Habit Handicap

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John Maxwell says that “connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way thatIMG_7295 increases your influence with them.”

If this is the case, it really makes sense for us to learn how to connect better in order to have greater influence with the people around us. Today I’m continuing a short series on the four barriers to connection.

The Barrier:

The second barrier is called the habit handicap. The first post in the series talked about the fight or flight response, which is a common response when we are under stress. If we don’t fall into the fight or flight response, we are very likely to fall into the habit handicap.

When we are deeply stressed we often go to our comfort zone, focusing on habits and behaviors that have worked for us in the past. Unfortunately, “our old patterns rarely fit our current circumstances” (Real Influence p. 22).

One of my favorite quotes by Einstein is his definition of insanity. He says insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

A Personal Story:

This habit is very easy to fall into. When I first started teaching, I worked with international students who were college aged and were preparing to study university courses in the United States. As a young teacher, I related to these students very well, and I learned very quickly how to connect with them.

When I first moved to South Korea to continue teaching English, I assumed that I knew how to connect with my students. However, my first year I was teaching children, not young adults. My focus on content and grammar did not go over so well, and I was not able to connect well with my students.

My second teaching position in South Korea was once again working with college-aged young adults, and I believed that I was back in my comfort zone. However, once again I failed to connect with my students because I assumed the students in Korea were the same as the students in the United States.  I learned the hard way that there are some key differences:

  • Teaching a group of students who all speak the same language is quite different from teaching students from diverse national and language backgrounds.
  • The Korean students have unique characteristics and shared experiences that have to be taken into consideration in the classroom, considerations that I was not aware of in the beginning.

By the time I moved to my third teaching position in South Korea, teaching business English to mid-career professionals, I had learned not to make assumptions, not to fall into the habits that I had developed in my first few years of teaching, and to focus instead on the needs and characteristics of my current students.

The Solution:

Anytime we want to break a habit, we have to put out the energy and the effort to make the necessary changes.

In his book Everyone Communicates Few Connect, John Maxwell describes five connecting principles and five connecting practices.  One of the connecting principles is that “connecting requires energy.”  He says that “connecting with other people doesn’t just happen on its own. If you want to connect with others, you must be intentional about it. And that always requires energy” (p. 72).

He goes on to describe five proactive ways to use energy in order to connect with others:

  1. Connecting requires initiative
  2. Connecting requires clarity
  3. Connecting requires patience
  4. Connecting requires selflessness
  5. Connecting requires stamina

I have found each of these ways to use energy to be very important tools I can use to connect with my students and others in my life.

 

If you would like to increase your connection skills, I would love to partner with you.  A mastermind group* centered around the book Everyone Communicates Few Connect is starting soon.  I invite you to join with like-minded individuals as we work together to take our connecting skills – and our influence – to a new level.

More information on the Everyone Communicates Few Connect mastermind group*

* “Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills.”  (quote from The Success Alliance)

“The Four Traps that Disconnect You” from Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen.  Read my review of Real Influence

The first barrier: The Fight or Flight Response

The third barrier: Error Blindness

The fourth barrier: The Double Curse of Knowledge