Influencing Others: Outside-In or Inside-Out
Your greatest ability to influence others comes from the fact that influencing others is not an outside-in job … it is an inside-out job!
Before I explain why … answer the following questions and be brutally honest with yourself:
- In a conversation with another person, do you spend the majority of the time sharing your thoughts and ideas?
- In a conversation where you are trying to influence someone do you always start by sharing your thoughts, ideas, opinions, or needs, before the other person?
Can I let you in on a little secret?
Until you know what the other person thinks, believes, or feels, about about a particular topic or situation … your opinion DOESN’T MEAN SQUAT when it comes to influencing others!
Most leaders feel that the way to get their point across is to first tell the other person what they are thinking, what they want, and sometimes even how they want it done. They feel that the more words they use to tell them what they want, the more effective they influencing others.
I have observed plenty of situations where leaders spend inordinate amounts of time and energy approaching others from the outside-in. This requires that they tell (make statements) in an attempt to convince others to listen, to follow, to understand, to change, to take action, etc. with very poor results.
However, influencing others requires that you take the time to start on the inside of the other person so you can first understand what they think.
Why? Because if you don’t know where they stand on a topic, how in the world do you know if they are already on the same page as you or whether they’re diametrically opposed to your thoughts and ideas. The gap that exists between where they are and where you are on the topic will determine the path you take to get them to move.
And yes, for the record I know there are some people who feel they are the leader and their position entitles them to be obeyed or followed. That doesn’t make you a great leader, in fact that makes you an insecure low-level supervisor … better to get a job training animals … they will follow as long as you feed them.
Influencing from the inside-out begins by asking great questions. And the power of asking great questions is critical no matter whether you are coaching, leading,or facilitating others.
5 Things That Happen When You Influence From The Inside-Out:
- It engages the other person in the conversation which ultimately increases their buy-in.
- It sends the message that their thoughts on the topic are valued … translation … they are valued. Most people do not feel valued even when you tell them because you have to show them!
- Your probability of successfully influencing goes up dramatically because you know what they think about the topic. And if you ask the right questions, you will be better suited to handle their objections and misunderstandings before you share your thoughts on the matter.
- It gives you the opportunity to see how they think which gives you the opportunity to influence their thought process and ultimately their behavior in the future. For example: if you help them shift their approach to problem solving, it will help them more effectively solve problems in the future! Especially, if their approach to problem solving is incomplete or is in need of a shift.
- Your ability to lead others will dramatically increase because your people will want to follow you knowing that they have some level of involvement in the conversation. This refers to the locus of control, a critical component that dramatically impact a persons level of engagement in their work.
At first this may all seem counter-intuitive because it is diametrically opposed to what most of us have been taught. That being, to focus on ourselves and our needs first before we understand and focus on the understanding others and their needs. However, as you become more adept at asking great question to draw out the other persons thoughts and opinions (what is inside of them), you will get more of what you need more often.