Every important conversation in our lives starts with clear intentions. We crave something. So, how do we get it?
Behaviors are the way how we reveal ourselves in the world. People are agents of change, and change is only possible when there is an action. It doesn’t matter what someone is saying until they are not doing anything about it. So, start with a simple idea: think about how do you want people to behave differently after this conversation.
Well, the pity thing is we can’t force others to do things we want them to do (unless you are a criminal or a parent). Our actions are driven by our set of belives. What we think and feel defines what we do. To create a new behavior, we need to land new beliefs. Once again, beliefs are not equal to words. People could say stuff, especially under pressure, but think differently. This will result in they acting differently despite of our expectations.
Old actions and old beliefs
We often focus on what we have to say. Sometimes we consider what we want people to think and what we want to achieve. Rarely we are starting with what really matters — how a person on the other side of the conversation act today and what beliefs define this behavior. Imagine you want to convince a friend to attend a party. Think about the real reason behind the rejection. May be a friend doesn’t have money to chip in, need to work overnight or just low on energy. In case you want to succeed, your stories should be different.
Insights and barriers
Current beliefs should be the foundation for your story. There are two main ways to create new thinking: to ruin the belief or to build on top. These are usually called barriers and insights.
Finding and breaking barriers is a “yes, but…” approach. If you see a weak point in someone’s facts or logic, the easiest way to influence is to address it adequately. Are you afraid of pasteurised milk? Well, you have old data. It’s actually super safe and even tastier than regular milk.
Insights are harder to crack but super efficient. It’s a “yes, and…” approach. You can use something that is already in a person’s mind and show the connection with your story. Hey, you believe that we need to help others. Well, this is our charity fund. Personally, I’m not so certain this will work. So what’s the trick? The new behavior is only possible with new beliefs. Stating what person knows already will not change anything. You need to find new connection within old beliefs that will show the subject of your conversation in a new way. Like a hidden belief. This is what is called insights in advertising. With the charity example, if someone beliefs it’s good to help others, they are probably helping someone, just not your fund. I’m almost sure in that case they would have another belief you can work with: e.g. I’m doing my part already or you can’t help everyone.
In a way, relationships are a set of beliefs people have about us. Whatever we are saying adds to this perspective. In some cases, it’s essential to focus on the aspect separately and address it directly, as we would address other beliefs. To make a conversation about the relationships. In other cases, stay aware that any conversation around any belief also touches others’ perceptions of you.
Whatever your plan is, the outcome will be as good as your story. Take time to prepare it before the conversation. Take time to master the craft of storytelling, as well as you are training your body and your mind.
We will be sure to touch more on this later.