I often find myself writing articles on influence and persuasion. It’s usually after seeing someone do something that brings them the very opposite of the result they desire. I’ll watch them arguing, pleading, begging or screaming, and then finally walking away in anger and frustration. “Why do these things always happen to me?” they seem to be saying to themselves.
Of course, those things happen to them precisely because they do what they do.
The results of one’s actions are more often than not a matter of cause and effect. Do things in a certain way and you will almost always get a certain result. If, for example, you relate to people in a way that makes them feel good about you (and, just as importantly, about themselves), chances are much greater that they will go out of their way to please you. Do the opposite, as most people do, and you’ll get the opposite results.
It’s not fun to watch this happening. It’s much more fun to watch someone “doing it right.” The bonus, when we come upon such an example, is that we are then able to use it to help us handle our own potentially difficult situations.
Here’s what I mean by watching someone doing it right …
I was in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, having been invited to speak at a conference there. It was about 8:00 a.m. when I brought my cup of coffee and a book into the lobby of my hotel. My presentation wasn’t until late afternoon, and this seemed like a good opportunity to relax and do some reading. Sitting across from me, oblivious to my presence, was a woman with a pleasant smile on her face and a cell phone at her ear.
If I hadn’t been eavesdropping … er, uh, I mean sitting where I couldn’t help but overhear her … I’d have thought she was talking to her best friend. She wasn’t. She was trying to straighten out a business problem that seemed to be her fault. It had something to do with someone having been left without some important documentation regarding an important transaction.
She hung up, went to the front desk, and pleasantly (there’s that word again) asked if they could send a fax for her. Granted, this was a wonderful, service-driven hotel. But even if it weren’t, they wouldn’t have turned down her request. If you’d been there, you would know exactly what I mean.
She came back to the chair opposite me and, apparently noticing me for the first time, very sweetly apologized for having bothered me with her talking while I was reading. I told her it was quite all right. Absolutely no bother at all. That I enjoyed watching her handle an obviously difficult situation. She smiled and told me that she was very grateful for everyone being so patient with her.
Positive Persuasion and Ultimate Influence Lesson: People tend to reflect your attitude right back at you. In other words: “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him (or, as in this case, her) by another.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 27:19)
Resolving her problem required several more trips to the front desk and phone calls to various people. She apologized when she had to, encouraged when she needed to, and smiled genuinely the entire time. Her mission, needless to say, was finally accomplished.
Before she left, I had to ask, “You have such a wonderful way with people. What’s your secret?” She summed it up in two sentences: “I appreciate everything my Creator has given me.” (That explains her positive attitude.) And “Most people are nice if you treat them as such.” (That explains her results.)
Getting the results you want while helping people feel good about themselves, about the situation, and about you. I call that Ultimate Influence. And that’s exactly what she had.