Winning people over seems more challenging for introverts who are often drained by TMC (too much conversation.) But today, competition for attention is out of control for everyone. When you see someone looking at their watch, you know they’re reading texts, not checking the time (aka not listening to you.) Even so, there are introvert ways that win people over.
It has never been easy to persuade people to change. Around the time of the American Civil War, there was an epidemic of women dying during childbirth because of puerperal fever. A physician working in Austria made an amazing discovery: when the physicians washed their hands before delivering the baby, the mothers did not get puerperal fever. They lived!
Yay! Time to save lives. However, the physician community soundly rejected Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis‘ research; many were actually offended by it. It would take 20 years before hand-washing was accepted as a critical part of patient care. I can’t even think about how many young moms died as a result of this massive communication fail.
And you thought you had issues with persuasion!
There are pieces that need to be in place before you impress someone, before you win them over.
There is a bit of pre-work you need to do to ensure success for your project buy in. Like house painting, the pre-work takes more time than the job itself. That’s why so few people actually do it.
Here’s the thing. You’re stinkin’ smart and your work is stellar. It’s just that the right people aren’t listening to your amazing ideas and solutions. Do the prep work and you will turn it around.
Most of the time getting your message across requires that people have multiple exposures to it. It’s never going to be one single conversation: it’s your personal communication campaign or game plan, involving multiple conversations, presentations and e-mails.
A client, Lucy, told me about a meeting where a top manager brought up a technical problem to which no one offered an answer. Then Lucy, the lowest-ranking person in the group and an introvert, brought up a stellar potential solution.
She was greeted with complete silence. [Awkward.]
Then the meeting resumed as if she had said nothing. This was before we worked together so instead of following up individually with people in the meeting, Lucy got discouraged and never brought it up again. Don’t let this happen to you!
Introvert Ways that Win People Over
1. Target the key decision makers and influencers. Make a list. Be clear about who influences whom. You want to reach these people individually and collectively.
2. Identify the pain points your organization (or Key Person) is experiencing and any frustrations you relate to the people you listed in #1. In other words, you want to have clarity about what the priorities are of each of the decision makers and influencers on your list.
Keep in mind that “high flyers” are at least mildly terrified of making a mistake. They may actually be petrified with fear as they have more to lose. This next step is your secret weapon to cut through their fear and be heard.
3. Be insanely curious and listen carefully to the word choices of the decision makers and influencers on your list. Repeat those same words and expressions when you talk to these folks. That helps them be less frightened. In their minds, you come across as genius when you use their fave words.
4. If there is a meeting where your conversation is relevant, ask to get on the agenda. If it’s with one of those people who never prepares agendas, ask him personally if you can attend and share something important.
5. Follow up the meeting(s) with *short* emails, sharing the problem/solution and moving to the “next step.”
BONUS: Ask key people for 5 to 10 minutes of their time in their offices is another part of your conversation strategy. Impress them with your audacity. Build that relationship!
You might enjoy this communication strategy: Be So Ridiculous They Can’t Ignore You.