Understanding that timing is not a key for influence, state is the key.
When I’m saying state management, I’m talking about the emotional state of the person we’re trying to influence. Most people know the saying or the phrase that
“Timing is key,”
that when I’m trying when I want, when I am willing to influence someone, the timing in which I’m approaching him is very important, which is not true. It’s partially true. Why am I saying it’s partially true? Because if or when I’m saying the timing is key, I’m not actually meaning the timing is key. When you’re saying, let’s say you want to get a raise from your boss, you’re going after a raise, you want to discuss your achievements and tell your boss that you deserve, you think, you believe you deserve to get a raise.
Person’s state is the key
Amazing. Most people will agree that for this conversation to be effective timing is key. Why? Because if you come in a bad day, when the other person has no time, he is stressed, he is [inaudible 01:38] to listen to you or accept what you’re saying is lower, if he is right now just discussed with the financial advisor of the company and he was given data that says that the financial status of the company is really bad. Then even though the raise you’re asking is not so significant to the entire company, he is in a cheap state. He was put in a cheap state, now he’s cheap. While if you just had a conversation telling him how amazing the company is and big bonuses are going to get in the end of the year and how your specific department did a really good job and this department is getting the bonuses, then maybe he will be more generous and easier to influence regarding this offer.
But the true understanding is that it’s not really about timing but about the state the other person is in. When we’re saying we need to find the perfect timing for this conversation, we’re not actually saying we need to look after the perfect timing for this conversation. We’re looking for the perfect state. We’re looking for the time in which this person is in a positive, usually open minded state. If I want to get someone to do something like I don’t know, hurt someone, maybe I want him in a pissed off state. But usually, I want them in a positive, open minded state. So for most people, the easiest way to influence someone else’s state is by waiting. Most people have no skill or no knowledge or they don’t understand or they don’t think about their ability to influence someone else’s state. Then if they’re getting home, they want to talk to their spouse about something that’s really meaningful for them. And they see that their partner is in a lousy state. They’ll say “Okay, it’s not good timing. I’ll wait. I’ll find another time when his state is different.”
So if it’s something that’s not so urgent, and maybe you see this person every once in a while or every day and most of the time he is in a good state then waiting a day is fine. But many times people are telling me, he is always in a lousy state. And once every never when he is in a positive, open minded state. It’s always on the one day I feel like crap or sometimes it’s simply a meaning where you have only this one shot. Now you have this meaning, tomorrow you won’t have this ability to meet this person again. So waiting for perfect timing is not a good strategy. Understanding that timing is not a key for influence. State is the key.
There are some specific examples in which time is key. For example, if you want to close a deal with a company that puts on the budget at a specific date of the year, if you’re going too far and they over budget or whatever, maybe in these specific conversations, timing is very important. But usually, in most conversations for most people in most relationships, the most important thing is state. The reason the timing is important is because in different times, people have different states. If I understand this principle, I can take more responsibility, I can be more effective by understanding, by saying, by declaring, by realizing I can influence the state of the person in front of me. If I understand these values, if I prepared properly, it will be even easier for me.
Changing other person’s state
So for me, before I tried to show the other person that his values and my outcome match, I try to make sure he’s in the right state. So first of all, maybe the conversation will go fluid. We’ll discuss some things, we’ll drink some coffee, we’ll have daily conversation. In this conversation, in my opinion in business meetings, this small conversation is the most important part of the conversation. Because in this part of the conversation, people are openly discussing their values. Why? Later on, some people are more stressed, they’re more reserved. When they’re discussing their children or their hobbies, they’re openly stating their values, if you listen. Also, if you use some influence techniques during this time, people’s defense mechanisms are not as sharp. If I tell someone I know, for example, that
I want to close a deal, like coaching for the entire middle executive level of the company and we’re discussing like, what was the weather today? And let’s say it was raining and I can tell the story of me getting there, in case it’s true, yeah, obviously, that I was getting into the building when it was raining and I was all wet. And I got my cell phone off my pocket. And I saw a text message from a manager in that organization that told me that the coaching went extremely well. And I was so happy about it. So now I’m very happy that we’re sitting here with the coffee with the warmth of the coffee and the warmth of the office. When outside, it’s raining. And the story about the manager simply slips into the other person’s mind. So this part of the conversation is a very, very important part of the conversation. And in this part, I want to understand their values as we discussed preparation.
But then, when we’re getting into business, most people “Okay, let’s talk business.” People are getting serious, they’re getting closed, they’re getting defensive. It’s also true in relationships with kids, tell your kid, we need to have a conversation about something, let’s sit. Tell your parents, we need to have a conversation about something, let’s sit. Tell your spouse, we need to have a conversation about something, let’s sit. Most people tend to alter their state just a little bit to the closed, reserved, defensive side.
Be in a positive state
So the first thing I want to do before I try to show them something is to change your state. How can I do it? So there are many ways to change someone’s state. The first way is to be in a positive state myself. If I’m all worried and I’m stressed and I’m sitting and I am like “We need to have this conversation right now, let’s sit” or “We need to have a conversation right now, let’s sit. It’s not the same as “Let’s have a conversation while right now I want to talk to you about something, let’s sit.” If I’m in a positive state and I am maintaining consciously, this positive state while the other person is in his negative state, gradually, his state will turn to change mine, to match mine. So this is number one.
Use powerful stories
The second thing we can do is use stories. Stories are very powerful and easy. When we’re discussing, altering and changing states. If we have common experiences with other people positively then discussing those experiences is a very easy way to make sure the other person gets into a positive state. If for example, I’m going to talk to my wife and tell her,
“Let’s sit down, I want us to talk about something. Remember the time in which we argue so much about the trash and the dishes and we wanted to kill each other.”
This conversation is not heading to be a very productive one. Because the experience she now associates to our conversation is a very negative one, she’s even more defensive, she’s even more closed. If [inaudible 11:57]
“Remember the time we went to Thailand and we were driving on the bike together, it was a bit scary but we had a hell of a good time.”
Maybe she’ll get just a bit stressed because she might know me and know I’m heading into some wild adventure. But our state will be dramatically different. So using stories is a very powerful way. In business, many times people tell me, “But people don’t care about my story in business,” it’s not true. It’s not true. A salesperson with a story is 10 times stronger than a salesperson with no story. Just someone who can tell you about the product is not even 10% as effective as someone who has a story about the product. As managers, as leaders, we can provide stories for our people or we can make them so called use the product and have their own authentic stories.
Exactly. First of all people buy from people, they want to hear the story of the other person. But if you have a story, regarding the product, for example, you are yourself using this product or this service and you got something from using it. It’s amazing. People want to hear it. Okay, today, the world is heading to a way, to a place where people can buy almost anything without talking to anyone. They can click and pay.
Why would people talk to someone when they can click and pay?
Usually people like to save time. They don’t want to waste time and today when they’re calling someplace usually takes time.
Why would they spend the time? Why would they spend the time to get to the store?
Because they want to hear something from someone, they want the person to tell them “It’s okay. This is the right decision.” They need it and on many decisions I need as well. When we were less confident about a specific purchase or something. We need someone to tell us “It’s a good idea. It’s a good product, you’re making the right call.” Because while we can click and buy everything, there are so many options and in many fields and in many areas, there is very little difference between one product and the other. So we want to have help. We want someone to guide us. So the second way is to use stories.
The third way, I think it’s the easiest one is to ask questions. Because asking questions is the most direct way to access someone’s state. When I asked someone, for example, if I want to close a deal, “Can you please tell me about a deal you had with someone that you’re very satisfied with?” “When was the last time you bought something and you were extremely happy about buying it?” Maybe you’re extremely happy about buying it until now. In order for someone to actually share this story, to answer this question, he must remember, he must tell himself the story of his own positive experience. So we asked to experience it.
The number one question in dating is, “What do you like doing? Number one question and then whatever the answer is, “Wow, really? What do you like about it? How come this is what you like? Wait, what do you like about this? What is the difference between this and this?” Regarding what you like. Before I got married before I met Leah, I used to go dating and usually I would simply use this question and then follow up questions for 45 minutes. Then the other person who told me it was the most interesting date he ever had, she ever had? Why would she have an amazing time while I almost told her nothing about myself. When she asked, I answered, of course, it’s not like I have something to hide. And I did share just a little bit about myself as well. But because in order to answer my questions, she had to think, experience the things she really likes doing. It’s so simple.
Asking questions is the easiest, most direct access to a person’s state. The most direct way to ask it which is not always appropriate, is simply asking, “When was the last time you felt happy? When was the last time you felt sad? When was the last time you felt gratitude? When was the last time you felt angry?” In order to answer this question, you have to do it. So in a sales situation or in a business situation, or in a dating situation or a situation with your kids or parents, it’s not always appropriate to ask it in this direct way.
So you can package this question with a little bit more fluff. Instead of asking your kid, “How was your day in school today?” If you want to create a positive environment, you can ask, “What was something you enjoyed in school today?” If you want to make sure nothing bad happens, “What was something you did not enjoy today?” Also a good question, every once in a while. Every day, you may ask, “What was something you enjoyed in school today?” Every once in a while, as a parent, you can ask “What was something that bothered you in school today? Was there something? What was it?”
Influence is about state management
So influence is about state management, creating the state before presenting, before trying to convince someone because you know it very well. If you have something that someone wants and needs and he is in a crappy state. He won’t listen. If you have the best advice for this person but it feels like shit, he is sad, he is depressed, he is angry, he is whatever emotionally flooded. He won’t take it. When speaking, when I’m teaching people presentation skills I usually tell them to never start teaching before the audience really wants to listen, before you create the state of positive anticipation, before you create a state of motivation towards the learning because if you simply go and dump everything you know on people, it will be interesting, it will be nice, but they’ll do nothing about it.
If you truly see yourself as someone who’s making presentations and speaking in front of audiences, as someone who wants to influence people, to create positive changes in their lives and probably you should first create the state to enable them to actually use what you’re going to teach.