Several years ago while I was living in South Korea, I met my parents in Hawaii for a short vacation. Since I was scheduled to arrive considerably earlier than my family coming from the mainland, my father suggested I pick up the rental car and check out Honolulu, which I thought was an excellent idea.
As I was driving around, I made a last-minute decision to get into a left-turn lane. When I checked, the lane appeared to be clear. Suddenly, I heard a “thump!” and realized that there was a motorcyclist there! Clearly I had failed to check my blind spot. Fortunately, I didn’t injure the driver, but I was quite shaken by the experience.
We are all familiar with the concept of a blind spot while driving, but very few are familiar with mental blind spots.
Step 2 in Mark Goulston and John Ullmen’s connected influence model is listening past your blind spot. They define your “blind spot” as the condition of being immersed in your own perspective:
Your brain doesn’t merely have a blind spot when it comes to driving; it also has a blind spot when it comes to influencing. And like a driver who changes lanes without checking to see what’s in the blind spot, you’re dangerous when you’re blinded by your own point of view. (p. 11)
The primary skill needed is “level 4 listening,” but because I have already written a bit about the importance of connective listening, I will focus here on another necessary, yet often overlooked element: “to influence, be influenceable.”
When I talk to clients and friends about being open-minded and influenceable, I tend to get a bit of push-back. They say they don’t want to be “so opened minded their brain falls out,” and they express concern that being open to others’ ideas means they will have to compromise their values and principles.
However, I have found Goulston and Ullmen’s explanation to be an excellent way of looking at this so-important element of developing influence with another:
Being influenceable isn’t about giving in, giving up, being weak or soft, being scared, or being any less committed to your principles and to achieving excellent results. And being influenceable doesn’t mean that you’re not going to disagree.
What being influenceable does mean is that you go into every conversation being willing to believe that you may be partially or totally wrong; that the other person may be partially or completely right; and that even if the other person isn’t right, you will learn something valuable from your interaction.
Being influenceable means being both open-minded and open-hearted. People tend to open their minds to people who’ve opened their own minds, and to open their hearts to people who permit themselves to be touched. When you want to strengthen your influence with others who see things differently, being vulnerable is more potent than being impervious. (p. 108)
If we truly value people in general, we need to first look for the value they bring to any relationship without imposing our own expectations or perspectives on them. To me, this is the essence of being open-minded. Even someone I disagree with violently on most things will have something of value to add to my life. This doesn’t relieve me of responsibility; being influenceable means we have greater responsibility to evaluate new ideas as they are presented, but it doesn’t mean we dismiss the people who share those ideas.
This week I dare you to open your mind and your heart to truly hear someone else, especially if that someone has dramatically different views than you do.
Links and Resources:
Previous posts on this topic
- Book Review of Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing and Gain without Giving In
- “Your Here” and “Their There”
- The Power of Connective Listening
- Reclaiming the Art of Listening
- What If You’re Wrong