Influencing others begins not with what you say, but rather with how you listen.
Conventional listening is superficial. You pay attention just enough to know where they are going, then you seek to change their opinion for the better. This begins a pattern of posturing and persuading. The opportunity slips away to generate fresh insights and to build a stronger connection.
In contrast, a Powerful Conversation starts with 3 levels of listening.
1. Listen for WHAT they are saying. Can you repeat what they have said without distortion? If you faithfully summarize their view, and they say, “Yes, exactly!”, then you’ve made a good start.
2. Listen for HOW they are expressing themselves. Do you fully understand their point of view (whether you agree or not)? Pay respectful attention to their feelings, needs, attitudes and beliefs. This builds rapport and paves the way for influence. You are getting closer.
3. Listen for WHO they are trying to become. Do you really “get” them as human beings? Can you join them in their intention to build a better future? When you accept them and their concerns with respect and appreciation, they feel deeply understood.
When you listen deeply, they have nothing more to prove or to hide. They can let down their guard and explore with you how to improve their thinking.
Your deep listening establishes a pattern so they can also become more open, receptive, and curious about what you have to say. Now the real conversation can begin.