Need to get people to change their mind?

Then act like an FBI Hostage Negotiator.  Use a five-step approach:

  1. Active Listening: Listen to the other side and make them aware you're listening.

  2. Empathy: Get an understanding of where they're coming from and what they’re feeling.

  3. Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. This is where you build trust.

  4. Influence: Now that they trust you, you've earned the right to work on solving the issue and recommending a course of action.

  5. Behavioral Change: They act.

The problem: most people start at step 4.  In a negotiation, the most important stage is really step 1.  

Why is active listening so important?  I’ve discussed elements of this before, when I asked “Do you listen in meetings?”  When you need to change someone’s mind, you need to accept the fact that people are incapable of being rational – their emotions always play a part.  

Actively listening to someone can set off a process of change.  It starts with the fact that when you’re fully focussed on listening, you stop thinking about your next move and start hearing what the other person is saying.  When you start hearing what the other person is saying you start to understand what they are feeling and what is important to them.  Understanding the other person’s position is the first move into Step 2.

When you understand what someone really wants, it gives you the opportunity to feed it back to them to check whether what they’re asking for will get them what they want.  You will be surprised, but often this is not the case.  Being a sounding board can help clarify this and in some instances can help a person understand the ridiculous nature of their demands.  This is the first move into Step 3.

People find it much easier to listen once they have said what they have to say.  Think if it this way:  when you have let someone fully explain everything that is on their mind, there is more space in their head to take on your ideas.  This is the first move to into Step 4.

In case you want to know more, the model is called “The Behavioral Change Stairway Model”


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