Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Really Understand Someone Else's Point of View

From the Harvard Business Review, just for me to refer to as needed to help me listen better


The most influential people strive for genuine buy in and commitment — they don't rely on compliance techniques that only secure short-term persuasion. That was our conclusion after interviewing over 100 highly respected influences across many different industries and organizations for our recent book.
These high-impact influencers follow a pattern of four steps that all of us can put into action. In earlier pieces we covered Step 1: Go for great outcomes and Step 2: Listen past your blind spots. Later we'll cover Step 4: When you've done enough... do more. Here we cover Step 3: Engage others in "their there."
To understand why this step is so important, imagine that you're at one end of a shopping mall — say, the northeast corner, by a cafe. Next, imagine that a friend of yours is at the opposite end of the mall, next to a toy store. And imagine that you're telling that person how to get to where you are.
Now, picture yourself saying, "To get to where I am, start in the northeast corner by a cafe." That doesn't make sense, does it? Because that's where you are, not where the other person is.
Yet that's how we often try to convince others — on our terms, from our assumptions, and based on our experiences. We present our case from our point of view. There's a communication chasm between us and them, but we're acting as if they're already on our side of the gap.
Like in the shopping mall example, we make a mistake by starting with how we see things ("our here"). To help the other person move, we need to start with how they see things ("their there").
For real influence we need to go from our here to their there to engage others in three specific ways:
  1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get "It." Show that you understand the opportunities and challenges your conversational counterpart is facing. Offer ideas that work in the person's there. When you've grasped their reality in a way that rings true, you'll hear comments like "You really get it!" or "You actually understand what I'm dealing with here."
  2. Personal Awareness: You Get "Them." Show that you understand his or her strengths, weaknesses, goals, hopes, priorities, needs, limitations, fears, and concerns. In addition, you demonstrate that you're willing to connect with them on a personal level. When you do this right, you'll hear people say things like "You really get me!" or "You actually understand where I'm coming from on this."
  3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress. Show people a positive path that enables them to make progress on their own terms. Give them options and alternatives that empower them. Based on your understanding of their situation and what's at stake for them personally, offer possibilities for making things better — and help them think more clearly, feel better, and act smarter. When you succeed, you'll hear comments like, "That could really work!" or "I see how that would help me."
One of our favorite examples involves Mike Critelli, former CEO of the extraordinarily successful company, Pitney Bowes. Mike was one of the highly prestigious Good to Great CEOs featured in the seminal book by Jim Collins on how the most successful businesses achieve their results.
One of Mike's many strengths is the ability to engage his team on their terms to achieve high levels of performance and motivation. When we asked him about this, he said, "Very often what motivates people are the little gestures, and a leader needs to listen for those. It's about picking up on other things that are most meaningful to people."
For example, one employee had a passing conversation with Mike about the challenges of adopting a child, pointing out that Pitney Bowes had an inadequate adoption benefit. A few weeks after that, he and his wife received a letter from Mike congratulating them on their new child — along with a check for the amount of the new adoption benefit the company had just started offering.
When he retired, the Pitney Bowes employees put together a video in which they expressed their appreciation for his positive influence over the years. They all talk about ways that Mike "got" them — personal connections and actions that have accumulated over time into a reputation that attracted great people to the organization and motivated them to stay.
It's a moving set of testimonials, and it's telling about Critelli's ability to "get" people on their own terms — to go to their there — that they openly express their appreciation permanently captured on video for open public viewing.
Remember, they did this after he was no longer in power.
Like Mike Critelli does, when you practice all three of these ways of "getting" others — situational, personal, and solution-oriented — you understand who people are, what they're facing, and what they need in order to move forward. This is a powerful way to achieve great results while strengthening your relationships.
When you're trying to influence, don't start by trying to pull others into your here. Instead, go to their there by to asking yourself:
  • Am I getting who this person is?
  • Am I getting this person's situation?
  • Am I offering options and alternatives that will help this person move forward?
  • Does this person get that I get it?
Mark Goulston and John Ullmen


Mark Goulston, M.D., F.A.P.A. is a business psychiatrist, executive consultant, keynote speaker and co-founder of Heartfelt Leadership. John Ullmen, Ph.D. oversees MotivationRules.com and teaches at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. They are co-authors of Real Influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In(Amacom, 2013).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chowchilla and Boston

In the mid 1970s I was a high school student.  An unassuming, easygoing, biddable young man sat at a desk a few feet from mine in my math class.  He seemed a bit at sea, without any plans and not a great deal of discernment, but was pleasant, polite, and liked to laugh and got along and would go along pleasantly with anyone.  His name was Rick Schoenfeld.  After high school he fell into spending time with his 20-something brother, James, and a man in his 30s named Frederick Woods whose moral compass was, it turned out, completely lacking.  And a few years later:


Later evaluations of the holding place of the children revealed that if the bus driver had not been able to get them out, they would likely have died of asphyxiation due to insufficient air circulation.

Rick subsequently turned himself in.  His brother and Frederick Woods fled and were later apprehended, the latter as he tried to cross the border into Canada.  Rick was paroled last year.  His brother and Mr. Woods are still in prison.

And as I hear reports of the astonishment of 19 year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends, I think I understand.

On a further note:
A San Francisco Chronicle article last June about Rick (Richard) Schoenfeld's release from prison contained an interview with a woman who was one of the children kidnapped.

"When told by a reporter that Schoenfeld's release was imminent, she said she wasn't surprised. "I knew he would be the first to be let go," she said by phone. Not only was he the youngest, but he seemed to be the follower, not the leader, of the crime, she said."

It reminds me that there is tragedy on many sides of this whole, horrible, recent Boston bombing.

Further into the article is this:  "A deeply religious woman steeped in her Christian values, Hyde said she has struggled with her feelings knowing that Schoenfeld probably wouldn't be in prison forever.

"I don't know if I've forgiven him," she said. "But I have moved past my anger and hate."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Many are called....

Reading through the Book of Matthew, I encountered again the parable of the laborers in the vineyard.  You know, the one where the householder hires day laborers who are seeking employment throughout the day, some in the morning, some in the afternoon and others just before evening, to help him with his work.  And then, at the end of the day pays the first ones, as they had agreed, a day's wages and also pays all the other workers the same. And the ones who have been working all day protest at the unfairness of that arrangement.  And the householder's response is, "Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?  Take that thine is, and go they way:  I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.  Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?  Is thine eye evil, because I am good?  So the last shall be first and the first last: for many be called but few chosen."

The commentary I was reading along with the text didn't discuss that last phrase.  So, of course, I started mulling over it.

The same phrase appears in the Doctrine and Covenants:

"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men..."

Often the "few are chosen" phrase is used in discussions about magnifying callings, or being faithful and and not a slacker in the work of God's kingdom: being a valiant worker as opposed to a slothful servant.  Those discussions may even focus on the hard work of those early morning laborers and lead one to erroneously believe that chosen is what they are.  But such discussions can lead us to miss the main point of the parable.

Last week A. and I talked about the role of personal motivations in our peace of mind or lack thereof.  I told her about an epiphany I had about a decade ago while listening to Kathy Goodness speak in a sacrament meeting.  She said, “The motivation for our work in our church callings should be love of God and love for our fellow men.” 

That sentence struck home for me that day.  As Christ taught, all else hangs on these two principles.  It was a catalyst for me to review my motivations in all the various kinds of work I did, and to change them.

And here, again, in this passage, I am reminded.  The householder is speaking to those early morning workers about their focus on justice and receiving recognition ( "they murmured...saying, "These last have wrought but one hour, and thou has made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.") instead of gratitude for the blessing of being employed that day and able to feed their families.  They focused on comparing their worth and on what they thought was just rather than on the blessing for them and for their fellow workers of having a day with work and good pay.   Which is why the householder asks them,  "Is thine eye evil because I am good?"

Many were called.  They were called throughout the day.  But only some resisted the temptation to measure the experience as fully satisfying only if they were recognized and rewarded for the fact that their labors were longer and harder than that of others; only if their extra efforts were noticed and commended, only if things were "fair".

Diligence doesn't make you chosen.  Working longer and harder than others under more difficult circumstances and harvesting more doesn't make you chosen.  Doing God's work with and wanting recognition or validation, verbal, mental or otherwise, from yourself or from others, for how well and long you've done it actually sabotages choseness. 

Being willing to work, keeping your promises to God ("he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day"), and NOT comparing your work with that of others or needing to be recognized ("aspire to the honors of men") for what you've done above and beyond the work of any others who have been called to work as well is the chosenness that God is calling us to.   

It IS being grateful to work for God and simply happy that your fellow workers are as well.   It is another version of having love and gratitude towards God and a love for your fellow men which unreservedly rejoices in their blessings too.  That, I think, is what being chosen means.