Have you ever found yourself trying to get many people in different departments or on your project team to all agree to something, or to try to come to consensus on a critical decision by committee? It can be like herding cats across a wide field into a fenced-in area at the back, if you don’t watch out. Especially if there are several issues of varying importance to the participants and differing personalities and needs.
What if you had a straightforward process that took into account multiple parties with very different interests and shortened the time to decision?
March has been dedicated as Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. With this season of reverence for women’s accomplishments upon us, I was curious about the qualities of powerful women from around the world. After reading several articles such as The Top 20 Influential Women in the World Today, The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and 150 Women Who Shake the World, I considered what are the overlapping skills that they bring to the world to be so influential?
In a recent training class, one of our exercises was to pair up people from the same department in similar job functions and have each person share a challenging situation they were facing at work. The other person’s role was to listen, ask questions, and offer any additional insight.
With mid-term elections finally concluding perhaps we can all get a little peace – fewer flyers in our mailbox, visitors ringing the doorbell, disruptive ads on television, and so on. (Although that’s all being quickly replaced by holiday shopping promotions!)
The democratic process is absolutely critical as is our right to free speech. What I would like to imagine is that if we have to endure a prolonged period of debate, let’s at least have the discussion be substantive so that we can actually have a prayer of understanding the interests of the represented sides.
Imagine you’re in sales leadership and you’re in discussions with a training and consulting firm to provide much-needed skill development to improve individual, team and, most importantly, corporate performance. The discovery process is going well and there’s strong alignment between training objectives and Sales vision. And then suddenly the quarter comes to a close, sales are down, and funding for this (and other) training initiatives is suspended.
When you’re involved in a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement with someone there are a multitude of factors that can affect the process and outcome. One of the more significant variables is relationship. In the midst of ongoing discussion - negotiating a contract, persuading someone to share your perspective, offering feedback, resolving a conflict – the status of your relationship with the other party can swing the pendulum dramatically.
Have you ever wondered how you could be more influential in situations in your life? Having studied, observed, practiced and taught best practices to being influential for decades, I believe a good start is to first influence yourself and then you can be influential with others. If you go into the situation without having influenced yourself first, you may be unprepared and resistant and find that getting to a good outcome is tougher that you hoped. To me, influencing yourself first means putting yourself in the right mindset and planning a little so the conversation will flow in a positive direction.
The host of a program on NPR recently asked the guest that common, conversation-starting question, "If you could have lunch/dinner with 3 famous people dead or alive, who would they be?" Maybe I'm influenced by the time of year and the recent commemoration, but when I ask myself who one would be, I think of Martin Luther King, Jr., humanitarian, and leader of the civil rights movement.