A motivational coach, consultant, therapist, and award-winning faculty member at Yale School of Medicine is. A guy named Michael V. Pantalon. He has a bunch of credentials like publishing articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association, so I read though his book, Instant Influence: How to Get Anyone to Do Anything—FAST with curiosity. I have a lot of projects that I was hoping he could help me with.
I have not had enough time to accurately test-drive his recipe of influence; however, I think I’m coming with a bit of a handicap considering my strong urge to want to please people. I only have to hear a vague “I don’t really see it that way,” to abandon my way and go with someone else’s. However, I do think part of his logic really works because, ultimately, the way he frames is questions is what I learn in twelve-step support groups and in therapy and in self-assertion workshops: Stick to “I” statements, not “you” statements. Or, in preschool lexicon, the vowel “I” comes well before the vowel “U.”
If we are to effectively influence, we need to ask lots of questions, acting sincere, and putting aside the opinions or blame. Those two things and negativity are the axis of evil in a conversation of negotiation.
So here are the six questions that are supposed to ask your guy to get him to take out the trash, cut the grass, do the laundry, wash the dishes, and comb the dogs so that you can go to the movies with your friends….
1. Why might you change? (Or to influence yourself, why might I change?)
It sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it is a very sneaky way of accessing a person’s motivation … to collect clues as to what you are going to need to say in order to get him to do the chore of your choice. You are tapping into his choices. And yes, even if he doesn’t see it that way, he does have options. You are merely pointing that out.
2. How ready are you to change—on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”?
I am not real fond of this question because it brings back memories of the psych ward, when I was asked about 20 times a day to pick a number from 1 to 10 to describe my mood. But I do see the rationale behind this one. Instead of a “yes” or “no,” or black or white, or mean or nice, or short or tall … okay you get the point, you are, once again, providing choices, a spectrum of options that the person can pick from. There may still be a power struggle, but less of one, because you aren’t asking her to make a decision. You just want her to pick a number, that’s all.
3. Why didn’t you pick a lower number? (Or if the influence picked 1, either ask the second question again, this time about a smaller step toward change, or ask, what would it take for that 1 to turn into a 2?)
You have to be careful here. You could easily sound like a pest, and get a “Drop it!” in response. In that case, by all means, drop it. But if you can get her to give you any response at all, you are encouraging her to engage in the thought process. The number isn’t important. Not at all. The reason and motivation behind the number is. Just like when you buy a car and some sleazeball asks you what you like in a car, your price range, and the date on your calendar you have marked to buy one.
4. Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?
Now that’s subtle. I had to laugh when I read this, because my therapist pulls that one on me all the time. And it works! Essentially, you are helping the person deepen his commitment to an action. He visualizes the change … think of SpongeBob, when he visualizes and starts drooling… oh, yeah, he wants it! He wants it now! That’s basically what question four does.
5. Why are those outcomes important to you?
Another smooth move. And another question that my therapist has used. One technique to get to this point is the “five whys” approach. I learned this act as a change-management consultant. We had to convince our clients that they needed to run their organizations our way, and we had to communicate that in about fifteen minutes with a jazzy PowerPoint presentation. Okay, here we go: “Your organization needs to change.” Why? “Because money is oozing out of the building.” Why? “Because most of your staff are on Facebook during the day, not doing what they are supposed to be doing.” Why? “Because the executives aren’t giving them any clear direction.” Why? “Because those in charge have their heads up their ….” Why? “You tell me!”
6. What’s the next step, if any?
Don’t leave out those last two words. They are crucial to the last step, because they reinforce that the person in front of you, or on the phone yelling, has a choice in all of this. Even if you’re pretty sure you’ve already convinced your girlfriend to walk your dog and then give him a bath, it’s always helpful to have her say it aloud so that she hears it. “Yep, this is what I’m doing. I’m am being his slave and yes, that is my choice and I’m happy with it.”