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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Outcomes and Shared Interests

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In 2004, I was living and working in S. Korea.  It was the first time I experienced a US presidential election while living overseas, and I was truly surprised by the interest my Korean friends and connections showed in the election.  In retrospect, it made sense; the policy decisions in the US have wide-sweeping impacts around the globe.  It was at that point that I started paying even more attention to US foreign policy.

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

In their book Real Influence, Mark Goulston and John Ullmen describe four steps in their “connected influence” model.  The first step is “go for great outcomes,” which they define as “standing for something noble and worthwhile, … about going beyond where people want to be and showing them where they could be” (p. 39).  This is what I hope to accomplish in this post.

Standing for Something Noble:  America was once considered a world leader, promoting democracy and human rights, resisting totalitarianism, fighting for freedom and liberty.  There is something inspiring in the images of Captain American and Superman, however unrealistic they may be.

However, that image was not entirely accurate.  We have not always used our power and influence wisely or ethically.  I was first made aware of the “dark side” of American exceptionalism when I was in high school and I learned about US intervention in other nations having catastrophic impacts on those nations.

As an example, I wrote a report for my history class my senior year in high school on the effects of US intervention in Nicaragua.  I discovered that by supporting a “right-wing dictator” in the first half of the 20th century, the US actually set the stage for the communist regime to gain power in the 1970s.

Strangely enough, we still haven’t learned our lesson; we are still supporting repressive regimes in other countries, leading to the loss of civil liberties and human rights in places such as Iraq and Ethiopia.

Closer to home, we hear in the news everyday of injustices being perpetrated on the disadvantaged, the underprivileged, the different.  We tried to tell ourselves that prejudice was dead, but we see across the country that it is alive and well.  I know I am not exempt, though I strive to identify and eliminate judgmental attitudes in myself.

Where People Want to Be:  Clearly, these injustices can not be allowed to continue, either at home or abroad.  I believe people want to see economic inequality and racial prejudices not merely reduced but completely eliminated, personal freedoms ensured.  What I envision is a world where every person is enabled to reach their God-given potential.

Where I think we have trouble is that we disagree on precisely how to accomplish this.  Some may think it is impossible and have given up, but I still have hope.  A first step is “healing the timeline.”

Dutch Sheets, in his book An Appeal to Heaven, talks about “healing the timeline.”  By this, he means that we as a nation need to recognize the injustices in our own history (and present), not deny or ignore them, and actively and humbly seek reconciliation.

We humans engage in denial at times, because it seems to alleviate the pain, but God doesn’t.  His plan, as Isaiah said, is always to “rebuild … raise up … repair … restore” the broken timelines.  The mending of these breaks allows the pain of the past to heal, not be buried.  … Without true healing, this cycle of pain repeats itself generation after generation. …

Through humility, repentance, God’s love, and forgiveness, we can heal history’s timeline. (p. 22-24)

Showing Them Where They Could Be:  After World War 2, we were the thought leaders of the world.  We were respected even by those who disliked us.  Still today, for good or ill, the US holds great influence on nations and individuals near and far.  To deny that influence is to perpetuate injustice.  We have to get our own house in order so that we can once again be an influence for human rights, justice, and liberty.

 

Links and Resources:

An Invitation – Join me for a live Q&A call, Thursday, July 16, at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

An Appeal to Heaven by Dutch Sheets

  • A short, quick, easy read, full of hope for the future of America.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler.

  • A systematic approach to difficult conversations that can make or break a relationship; more focused on specific types of conversations than Real Influence.

 

 

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

A Response to the Events in Ferguson, Missouri

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As I have been following the reactions to the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, regarding the case of Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, my heart has been troubled. In my Facebook news feed, I hear the voices of liberals and conservatives, of Black and White (and Hispanic and Asian); I hear voices calling for peace, respect, and safety, and I hear voices crying out in anger, frustration, and sadness.IMG_0269

It is not my intention to respond to the Grand Jury decision; I know the members of that jury were privy to information that is not available to me, and I have to trust that they made the best decision given the information at their disposal. Neither is it my intention to criticize those who are protesting and calling for change and reform; I see that there are things within our society that are broken, that are not working as we think they should.

It is my intention to use my unique position, situated between people of different races and socio-economic status, to try to bring greater understanding to all sides of the issue and to find a way forward that encourages justice for all. There is more to the story of the social injustices in America, and we as a society need to hear it.

I recently read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a book purportedly about success, which opened my eyes to how our current situation has been made possible when so many middle class Americans aren’t even aware. In the first chapter, Gladwell talks about the American belief in the “self-made man” and the triumph of personal determination and grit, and about how this perception of success is flawed.

In Outliers, I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don’t work. People don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage. The people who stand before kings may look like they did it all by themselves. But in fact they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot. It makes a difference where and when we grew up. The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t. (Outliers p. 18)

The rest of the book documents these assertions, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

IMG_6718I grew up in a middle class White household, which gave me certain privileges that I did not recognize for a long time. As I was growing up, my peers and I were taught not to think in racist terms; we have come to believe that the Civil Rights movement ended all racism and that now we are living in a racial utopia. However, recent events are revealing just how wrong we really are, and we are trying to wrap our minds around a reality we never were aware of. Sadly, many are in denial, but the number of recent incidents, and the protests and riots in Ferguson, should show us that it’s a real issue, not something made up. Privilege is not a bad thing, but it does give us a greater responsibility for righting the wrongs in our society.

Now is not a time for vengeance for all wrongs, real or perceived. Now is not a time to pretend these wrongs are all imagined. Now is not a time for rhetoric and political posturing. Now is not a time to wait for things to “blow over” so we can get back to business as usual.

The time has come for action and change, for the deliberate opening of opportunities to those who have been denied, for whatever reason. It is a time for increasing our awareness and understanding, to practice “connective listening” with those who have long felt unheard. By listening and understanding, we can begin to identify practical steps to heal racial divisions, first in the Church, then in our communities, and finally in our country and beyond.

To Live A Well-Connected Life

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My first year teaching in S. Korea was challenging in several ways. Not only did I have to adapt to a new culture and language environment, but I also had to adapt to a new student population. I had previously taught college-age international students in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, but that first year in Korea I found myself teaching classes to elementary school students.

St. Louis Botanical Garden

St. Louis Botanical Garden

On top of that, for most of my classes, the mothers of my students sat along the walls of the classroom observing the class. I did the best I could to deliver lessons that were full of content and language practice, but in the end students started leaving my classes because they were bored. In fact, my first teaching contract was not renewed for a second year, primarily because I failed to connect with my students.

As a young and fairly inexperienced teacher, my focus was on the content of my lessons. However, I needed to understand the specific needs and wants of the individual students in my class. For my elementary students, this was their need to have fun and play as well as learn English. By the time I moved to my third teaching position in Korea, working with mid-level managers in an international corporation, I finally began to understand the needs of my students well enough to connect with them in ways that led to their success and mine.

Until I learned to take the students’ perspectives into consideration, I was unable to connect with my students in ways that encouraged them to engage in the lessons I prepared. In their book Real Influence, John Ullmen and Mark Goulston identify a primary cause of disconnection as the “blind spot” in our brains. Because we naturally approach any issue from our own perspective, we fail to consider other perspectives, which creates a mental “blind spot.” They further describe four traps most people fall into when it comes to connecting and influencing others:

  1. the fight or flight response – “your nervous system … doesn’t know the difference between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and an tyrannical boss” leading you to either respond aggressively (fight) or avoid the situation (flight)
  2. the habit handicap – when stressed or challenged, we resort to our “comfort zone” of behaviors that have worked in the past, but which may not be best in the current circumstances
  3. error blindness – being wrong feels just like being right, and it isn’t until we realize our error that we can correct it
  4. the double curse of knowledge – even when you are right, you may find it difficult to explain what you find obvious to a less knowledgeable person.

I think I experienced all four when I moved to Korea!

Through trial and error I eventually learned how to connect with my students. However, I now recognize that John Maxwell has summed up these strategies of how to connect with others in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership:

  1. Connect with yourself – know who you are and be confident in your skills and abilities
  2. Know your audience – learn the goals, hopes, and dreams of the people you are working with
  3. Go to where they are – meet people in their circumstances, or as Ullmen and Goulston say, in “their there”
  4. Communicate with openness and sincerity – being transparent is essential to creating a connection
  5. Offer direction and hope – present the positive and optimistic view; there are enough negative voices in the world
  6. Live your message – practice what you preach and you can build credibility
  7. Focus on them, not yourself – show people you care about them and their circumstances
  8. Believe in them – encourage and support people, even at their lowest.

These guidelines have become the backbone of my teaching style.IMG_6764

Many of the Old Testament prophets failed to connect with the people of Israel and Judah, in part due to the nature of their messages of repentance, messages the people simply weren’t interested in hearing. However, a notable exception is Daniel who practiced connected influence as an advisor to the kings of Babylon and Persia.

  1.  Connect with yourself – Daniel had such a clear view of himself that he asked for an exception when given “the king’s delicacies” (Daniel 1:5, 8-16).
  2. Know your audience – when Daniel first approached the chief eunuch about his diet, he demonstrated a concern for the man’s predicament (Daniel 1:8-10).
  3. Go to where they are – Daniel suggested a 10-day trial of a vegetable diet to limit the risk to the chief eunuch (Daniel 1:12).
  4. Communicate with openness and sincerity – when Daniel came before Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, he was clear that he didn’t have the interpretation because he was wiser than any other but because God had revealed it to him (Daniel 2:27-30).
  5. Offer direction and hope – when Daniel gave a negative interpretation for one of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, he also gave counsel for how the king could avoid the coming personal disaster (Daniel 4:19-27).
  6. Live your message – when the lower government officials tried to discredit Daniel, they couldn’t find any opening to accuse him of wrongdoing (Daniel 6:4).
  7. Focus on them, not yourself – Daniel humbly served those set above him as well as those under his authority (Daniel 1:8-13; 2:14-18, 24-30, 49; 4:19, 27; 5:17; 6:1-3).
  8. Believe in them – Daniel consistently encouraged the best in the kings he served (Daniel 2:37-38; 4:19, 27; 6:21)

Connecting with others is an important step towards developing a sphere of influence. Daniel exerted a gentle influence upon the pagan kings of Babylon and Persia by connecting with the rulers of those countries. We, too, can exert a similar influence upon those in our sphere of influence if we follow his example and truly begin to connect with those around us.

 

Resources and Links

Interview with John C. Maxwell on the 700 Club talking about the Laws of Leadership

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

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

Sunday message by Pastor Jeff Abyad on the life of Daniel: Thriving in Captivity

 

 

 

Is It Possible to Influence a Culture?

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After several years of teaching in S. Korea, I found I had learned how to connect with my Korean students, so when I was given the position of lead instructor and had to connect with all forty students in the program, I was able to do so effectively.

at Green Springs Gardens

at Green Springs Gardens

However, I was not very effective when it came to leading the teaching team; I had a harder time connecting with the other English teachers. When conflict developed between two of the instructors who were teaching the same course, I attempted to resolve the situation by sitting down with them together and talking through it. Both instructors behaved professionally and seemed receptive to my suggestions. Imagine my surprise when, ultimately, nothing changed. The two instructors continued not sharing information even though they sat next to each other in the office. It was at this point that I began to question my ability to lead the teaching team.

Because I had not connected well with my teaching team, I had no influence with them. John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” In his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Maxwell lists seven factors that impact our ability to influence others.

  1. Relationships – who you know. Most people are not easily influenced by strangers; the better you know a person, the greater your potential influence on that person.
  2. Knowledge – what you know. Experts in their field often wield strong influence, whether it is as an expert witness or providing an endorsement for public policy.
  3. Character – who you are. When you are a person of integrity who keeps your word, people begin to trust you and allow themselves to be influenced by you.
  4. Ability – what you can do. When you can demonstrate skills and abilities that are relevant to the problem at hand, people will tend to follow your suggestions.
  5. Intuition – what you feel. When your education, experience, and gifting converge, you may find that your ability to influence increases.
  6. Past success – what you’ve done. Even more than experience, a successful track record will give greater weight to your words.
  7. Experience – where you’ve been. Knowing that you have faced similar situations in the past, many people will allow themselves to be influenced by your present recommendations.

The fact that Christianity is one of the most widely spread religions speaks of the influence exerted by Jesus.

  • Relationships: He established very strong relationships with his twelve disciples (John 6:67-68).
  • Knowledge: His teaching drew vast crowds (Luke 14:25).
  • Character: The people recognized His character and authority (Matthew 7:29).
  • Ability: He proved time and time again that He had the ability to meet people where they were and to bring them into a more abundant life (John 10:10).
  • Intuition: Jesus knew just the right thing to say to each person to impact them for the Kingdom of God. (Nicodemus – John 3, the Samaritan woman at the well – John 4).
  • Past success: He was successful in accomplishing everything He set out to do, from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed to feeding the five thousand and redeeming mankind (John 17:4).
  • Experience: He is God become Man, and so has experienced temptations just like we do (Hebrews 2:18, 4:15).

Many people I talk to have a desire to see change, but they feel they have little or no influence in these areas. However, there is hope; in their book Real Influence, John Ullmen and Mark Goulston list four steps people can take to increase their influence.

  1. Go for great outcomes. This is accomplished through focusing on results, reputation, and relationship.
  2. Listen past your blind spot. When you are focused on your own goals, “your here,” you are not able to connect with people from their perspective, “their there.” This requires “connective listening” (or as Julian Treasure calls it, “conscious listening”) – focusing on understanding the other’s perspective, not on preparing a response or defending your position.
  3. Engage them in their there. When you “get it” (the other person’s situation), “get them” (their strengths, weaknesses, hopes, fears, and dreams), and “get their path to progress” (options and alternatives that empower), you are able to truly connect and exert positive influence.
  4. When you’ve done enough, do more. This means going above and beyond people’s expectations in ways that make you memorable.

According to research by Serge Moscovici in the field of social psychology, a consistent minority can have significant influence even when it is not particularly powerful or prestigious. This is good news for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the thought of influencing culture change. By increasing both our personal and community influence, we can create a more unified voice, and the Church can return to a position of influence in our culture.

 

Resources and Links

Interview with John C. Maxwell on the 700 Club talking about the Laws of Leadership

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

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

Coursera course in Social Psychology, taught by Scott Plous of Wesleyan University; information about minority influence from lecture 3.4: Group Pressure and Conformity Part 2.

“Moscovici and Minority Influence” on SimplyPsychology.org

100 Bible Verses about Influence

44 Bible Verses about Positive Influence