Do you want to resolve your conflict?  Let go of your perspective. 

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Last week a friend posted a cartoon on Facebook that purported to explain “white privilege.”  This stirred up all kinds of controversy in the comments, including a link to a counter cartoon.

The trouble is I could see elements of truth in both cartoons.

It has been my observation that many, if not most (or more!), conflicts arise over a refusal to consider the other person’s perspective.  Perhaps refusal is too strong, but at the very least an inability and at worst a refusal to walk in someone else’s shoes is an element of almost any conflict.

Looking from Other Perspectives:

If you want to resolve a conflict, you must begin by seeing the situation from the other person’s perspective.  This concept is echoed by many experts:

Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton:

Whether you are making a deal or settling a dispute, differences are defined by the difference between your thinking and theirs.  (Getting to Yes, loc. 685)

Mark Goulston, John Ullmen:

To practice connected influence, you need to break down the barriers that keep you from knowing what other people think, want, and need.   (Real Influence, p. 81)

John Maxwell:

If you want to connect with others, you have to get over yourself.  You have to change the focus from inward to outward, off of yourself and onto others.  (Everyone Communicates Few Connect p. 29)

Stuart Diamond:

People like to give things to others who listen to them, who value them, who consult with them.  (p. 32)

Stephen R. Covey:

If I were to summarize in one sentence the single most important principle I have learned in the field of interpersonal relations, it would be this: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  This principle is the key to effective interpersonal communication.  (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 237)

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler:

People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool [of meaning] – even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs.  (Crucial Conversations, p. 24)

There is no way to resolve a conflict until you are able to hear and understand all parties involved.

The Struggle is Real:

While it is a natural human condition to be concerned primarily for oneself, it is not conducive to living peacefully with others.  Everyone has challenges.  Some are monumental challenges – a family member struggling with cancer, the loss of a job and financial struggles.  Others are less so – an extended bout of bronchitis, an unexpected expensive car repair.  However, the size of the struggle is in the eye of the experiencer.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

This became abundantly clear to my family about 7 years ago.  My niece was born a micro premie, with a birth weight under 2 pounds.  As you can imagine, this instigated a season of intense struggle and incredible challenges.

I am very proud of my sister and her family for how they came through the first year or so, and today they are all doing very well.  However, in those early days she received very little support from her church and other friends, to my mind shockingly little.  The simple reason was that the people around her had their own struggles to deal with and were unable to see my sister through her struggle.

My sister had the opportunity to become very bitter and resentful, but she didn’t.  Instead she taught me the truth I am sharing with you – that everyone sees the world through their own lens, and you can’t blame them for that.

The ability to step back and view the world from someone else’s perspective requires a level of maturity not required under normal circumstances.  Many people don’t recognize the need for it until they are in the moment and find themselves lacking.

A New Approach:

In the commentary under my friend’s post, most comments were between a very angry woman and a very exasperated man.  In both of their comments I could hear their pain; it was clear both had had very hurtful experiences, but I don’t think they could detect it in each other.  Instead, they just kept jabbing at each other, increasing the anger and resentment they already felt.

What if … just imagine, if instead of reacting out of our own hurt, maybe, just maybe, we were able to ask instead, “tell me what happened to cause you to react this way?”  How could things be different if we only listened, really listened and tried to understand each other’s stories?

 

Resources:

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

Everyone Communicates Few Connect: What the Most Effect People Do Differently.  John C. Maxwell.

Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life.  Stuart Diamond.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In.  Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton.

Real Influence: Persuade without Pushing, Gain without Giving In.  Mark Goulston, John Ullmen.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.  Stephen R. Covey.

Read more about my sister’s story here:  Born at 26 Weeks Weighing Under 2 Pounds, This Happy Girl Shows Why We Stand for Life

 

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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

The Heart of the Matter – Adding Value

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Have you experienced a time when someone went above and beyond the “call of duty”?  Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a mentor, or a friend.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

When I first starting writing this blog last year, it took me a while to find my voice and my style.  At that time, a friend of mine agreed to help me by previewing my articles.  What I didn’t know was that this friend has a background in publishing.  He didn’t just preview, but he gave detailed feedback, pointing out gaps in the flow of information and providing valuable suggestions.  His input helped establish a firm foundation for everything that has followed.  He genuinely did so much more for me than I had anticipated.

My friend demonstrated the final step in the connected influence model, which is “when you’ve done enough … do more.”  If you want to have principled, integrity-based influence in people’s lives, you have to go above and beyond what’s expected; you have to go the “extra mile.”

John Maxwell says that “leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”  That being the case, his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership provides 21 strategies for increasing your influence.  Law #5, the Law of Addition, states that “leaders add value by serving others.”  He says, “I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others.  That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives” (p. 51).  This is the essence of connected influence.

Connected listening is the starting point of connected influence (or connected leadership).  Once you truly understand another’s point of view, hopes, goals, and challenges, you may be able to move forward together.  Mark Goulston and John Ullmen, in their book Real Influence, draw a connection between “the 3 gets” of step 3 with “the 3 value channels” of step 4:

  • You get “it” –> you can add insight
  • You get “them” –> you can add emotional value
  • You get their path to progress –> you can add practical value

No matter how much you understand, until you help the other person by adding value to them, you are no more than a sympathetic ear.  Don’t get me wrong – one of our greatest needs as humans is to feel heard and understood, so being a sympathetic ear is adding value to someone.  However, in order to take your influence to the next level, you will have to invest in people by pointing them towards solutions.

My challenge to you for this week is to identify one person in your life who you would like to develop greater influence with.  Make a point of asking about that person’s situation and look for opportunities to provide support and creative suggestions.  If you have never done something like this before, you will be amazed by the results.

 

Links and Resources:

Previous posts on this topic

Previous Posts on the Connected Influence Model

The Journey from “Their There”

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Have you ever felt like you just haven’t connected with someone and wondered why?  I recently experienced a serious disconnect with a friend.

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

She was explaining something that she was very interested in, going into great detail about how her solution would benefit me, too.  However, while her solution is perfect for her and her season of life, it is totally unsuitable for my situation.  I chose to let her talk instead of cutting her short, primarily because I wanted to let her express her enthusiasm.  The sad result, though, was feeling a major disconnect from my friend, which is likely to damage my willingness to be open with her unless I take some deliberate steps to change the situation.

She did not meet me in “my here” when she was trying to influence me.

The third step in the connected influence model is to meet the other person in “their there.”  This step must come after connected listening; because you now understand the other person’s perspective, you can start there and take them on a journey to help them see your perspective.

To define “their there,” Mark Goulston and John Ullmen talk about the “three gets of engage”:

  1. You get “it” – you have taken the time to truly understand their perspective and their unique situation.
  2. You get “them” – you see them for who they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses, hopes and struggles.
  3. You get their path to progress – you understand the steps they can take to move in the direction of their goals, taking into consideration their values and concerns.

To go back to my situation with my friend, it was clear after just a few minutes that she didn’t get “it” – she did not understand my situation and my priorities.  Even though she gets “me,” without “it” she can’t get my path to progress.

In order for our friendship to move forward, I will have to have a conversation with her when we are not rushed for time.  I will have to meet her in “her there” by digging deeper into her situation, then step-by-step I may be able to help her see my perspective more clearly.  If she is ready for that small journey, then perhaps we will still be able to have an open friendship.

 

Links and Resources:

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Watch Your Blind Spot!

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Photo by Tasha M. Troy

Photo by Tasha M. Troy

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.”

IMG_5249When 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

 

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.