Redux: I wrote this post in Feb. 2011. Based on recent conversation, it seems even more relevant now and so I choose to pick it up, add some clarity and publish a newer version this week.
Not Every Attempt Gets the Expected Outcome
When our son was barely five years old, he was a shy child who lived by his own timetable. He had his own ways of doing things. If you wanted his attention, your best bet was to make eye contact and simply explain what you what you had to say.
It was during that year, that his grandparents came to visit us in Austin. Together as a family, we planned several outings to enjoy the city and our favorite restaurants. One evening, the whole group was getting ready to go dinner and our son was still playing — not getting ready. This circumstance stressed out three of four adults in his company. Suddenly one, then two, then all three of them were using loud firm voices to tell a child, half their size, to “Get upstairs to change in to clean clothes, immediately!!”
The child froze like a deer in the headlights.
The mom in me responded with like to like. In firm and loud voice, I said, “Who are you to gang up on a little kid like that? Get away from here!”
The three adults moved into the kitchen and spoke quietly to each other.
I took the little boy by the hand. “I said let’s go upstairs and find what you’ll wear to dinner.”
When we came downstairs ready to go to dinner, I walked into the kitchen and apologized for my outburst. In return I got three calm apologies that also said I was right to intervene on the child’s behalf.
Not every attempt at influence gets the outcome we’re going for.
Which Actions Achieve the Outcomes You Seek?
If we can agree that influence is some word or deed that changes behavior. Then plenty of influence occurred in the story I just related. I suspect that had I been privy to the whole scene in the kitchen I would have found that that single story included examples of confrontation, persuasion, conversion, participation, and collaboration. The only thing missing in this family scene would be true antagonism. Six different approaches to influence which lead to entirely different outcomes.
I’ve been reading about, thinking about, and talking to people about influence for months, because influence and trust are integral understanding to loyalty relationships. Let’s take a look at six of the usual forms of influence and the outcomes that result from them.
- Antagonism – provokes thought Your values are everything I believe is wrong with the world. You can’t stomach anything that I stand for. We are not competitors. We are enemies at war. Your words and actions might provoke thoughts and deeds, but what I’m thinking is how wrong you are, how to thwart you, or if I have no power, how to hide my true thoughts and feelings. An order from an enemy can influence a behavior but won’t change my thinking.
- Confrontation – causes a reaction You say it’s black. I know it’s white. I respond in some way — I fight back. I run away. I consciously ignore you. My response will probably change based who is more powerful. You might overpower me. I might stop responding, but it’s unlikely that you will actually change my thinking. Confrontation leads people to build a defense, to strengthen their own arguments.
- Persuasion – changes thinking You look at me and think about how what you want might benefit me. Rather than telling me, you show me how easy, fast, or meaningful it is go along with you. You’ve changed my about what you’re doing. I now see your actions from a new point of view.
- Conversion – moves to an action Your invitation to action is so convincing and beneficial to my own goals that I do what you ask. You’ve influenced my behavior to meet your goal. You have won my trust and commitment to an action. It’s not certain I’ll stay converted.
- Participation – attracts heroes, ideas, and sharing You reach out with conversation. We find that we are intrigued by the same ideas, believe in the same values, and share the same goals. Your investment in the relationship builds my trust and return investment. You invite me to join you in something you’re building. My limited participation raises my investment, gives me a feeling of partial ownership, and moves me to talk about you, your goals, and what we’re doing together.
- Collaboration – builds loyalty relationships We develop a working relationship in which you rely on my viewpoint. We share ideas and align our goals to build something together that we can’t build alone. You believe in my value to your project. I believe in the value of what you’re building. You have gained my loyalty and commitment. I feel a partnership that leads me to protect and evangelize the joint venture. I bring my friends to help.
Not every campaign or customer situation will need to move to collaboration. But understanding each level will help us manage expectations allowing us to move naturally and predictably from confrontation to persuasion, so that we don’t expect the loyalty of collaboration from a momentary conversion.
Could be useful when looking to connect with that special valentine too.
How might you use the hierarchy to change the way you manage your business, your event, your community, and your new business initiatives?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!