Welcome to the “Age of Distraction”; we are all now officially distracted: from minions to Grand Poo-Bahs. For you that means less time to get your point of view across….or to get people on board.
So, keep your presentations concise and focused. A reflector of our miniature attention spans: the average snap (Snapchat social media) lasts all of 5 seconds.
I’m honored to be among the speakers at the upcoming DisruptHR in Charleston May 17. My allotted time is a grand total of 5 minutes. My topic is “Leadership Lessons from La La Land.”
You need to be able to get people on board now and they’re not really listening.
To quote the Cocktail CEO, Niki Pfeiffer, Everybody in business shares one universal problem: to succeed you have to persuade others to support your vision, dream or cause.
You need to be able to get people aligned with you in less time and in a more cluttered environment. Successful sales pros use this word to overcome objections.
It all goes back to childhood.
Have you spent any time lately with a 4-year-old? Or first grader?
They love to ask you “why?” And at least half the time you have to be quite imaginative to come up with a semiaccurate answer that makes sense to them.
Why is the grass green?
Why do you go to work?
Why do I need to eat broccoli?
Why does it smell bad?
Why is Uncle Marvin so fat? (Usually asked when sitting next to Uncle M.)
And so on. Children want a context that makes sense to them.
And so do we.
We just don’t ask it that way as often because we have become, to varying degrees, socially acceptable.
So if you want to keep people on board with you, tell them WHY. Use this magic word:
Here’s the mathematical formula developed especially for Mixonian’s technical clients:
I want you to do X BECAUSE Y.
For example, someone on your team needs to attend some extra meetings.
She does not seem excited about that. No sane person wants to attend more meetings.
Then you say, “I want you to attend these extra meetings because we are grooming you for upper management.” That makes it a totally different story.
Persuasion research shows that using the word “because” gains cooperation because it makes the request more attractive and logical to accept.
Colleague and friend, Liz Guthridge, is managing director of Connect Consulting. Liz is a leadership development coach and consultant who helps leaders improve their soft skills using the hard sciences of applied neuroscience, behavior design and lean communications.
She’s my go-to for the “brain-friendly” explanation to things.
Liz tells me, We like hearing the “why” because it appeals to the motivational system of our brain, especially when the “why” is describing a vision or purpose. Yet, even hearing about the rationale behind a decision or action, your brain can close the gaps between the abstract and the concrete, which gives you a sense of control over the information and any steps you may want to take. (Read her article on this here.)
It’s like you don’t really enjoy taking the time to go to the gym but you do it because it makes you more fit and easier to live with.
It’s preferable to say something rational after the word “because.”
I need you to leave this light-filled office and move to a dark miniature cubicle because we’re cost cutting to save jobs.
I want you to consider this raise I’m requesting because I have gone above and beyond in improving user experience, as you can see from our recent customer service scores.
I want to work from home each Wednesday because it would save 2 hours in commuting time and I am much more productive in my home office environment.
People will listen to you more attentively when you tell them WHY you want them to know whatever it is you want to tell them. Everybody wants to know the WHY.
However, it has happened that some company leaders categorically disagree with any idea not credited to themselves, or certain allies.
There are also people who disagree with everyone, regardless.
So. When you want people to cooperate, align or get their buy-in, tell them the WHY in the beginning: use the word “because.” When you can’t get cooperation, see it as a challenge to develop alternative solutions and directions.