We had an interesting presentation about influence at work recently. One of our executives led us through an exercise where each of us had to sell a “magic” pen to the person sitting next to us. It was a compressed timeframe and the pressure was on. Afterwards, she asked which person talked the most in the transaction. The lesson was that the one who was selling, or influencing, should have been listening most of the time.
Then she said something that really intrigued me – that it’s hard for some people to listen because they are giving up a part of themselves. Is this true? Do you ever feel this way when you focus more on listening?
It’s not a matter of giving up control of the conversation, because the person who asks the questions usually controls the flow. It’s not giving up the opportunity to share your knowledge, because sharing your content in a meaningful context makes it that much more powerful.
I believe the only thing that is given up is your ego. (I know I’ve been guilty of this on occasion… loving the sound of my own voice.) Even if you DO know more about the subject than everyone else in the room, it doesn’t mean you should monopolize the conversation just because you can. Take a breath and take a poll every now and then.
Influence does not take place through words flying through the air. Influence takes place inside your audience’s mind. And how can you know if that’s really happening… if you do not ask them?