Elephants don’t always persuade

Time to Read – 2 Minutes 14 Seconds

Our Elephant in the Room events are proving a big hit, as we coach people on how to run such sessions in their own organisations – sessions that have one aim, for people to say what’s on their mind, with no fear or favour.

Such in-company sessions can be emotional, cathartic and tough – they build stronger relationships, save so much time and get to the point on the very big issues.

However, contributing elephants is not always the same as influencing people.

The aim of one is to tell the truth as you see it.

The aim of the other is to persuade a person (or people) to see and believe in your point of view.

And that may be very different.

However, we can learn much of one, from the other. When holding the elephant you say what is on your mind, when holding the need to persuade you must appeal to what is on their mind.

Tell the truth / your point of view not as you see it, rather as they see it. In other words, frame your words in language that will appeal to theirs.

An example:

Let’s say your boss is focused on what isn’t working – on fixing defects, and believes this is the priority to succeed in your organisation. In other words – he is a “moving away” person (motivated by moving away from things that cause pain).

You, on the other hand, are focused on what is working – on repeating successes, and believe this is the priority to succeed in your organisation. In other words – you are a “moving towards” person (motivated by moving towards things that cause pleasure).

And you have to persuade your boss on something important – if you couch it in language that appeals to you – “This project will help us achieve so much, we will win more customers and make money” you may as well be talking double-dutch. Instead, focusing (as always) on the outcome you want to achieve, you could instead say “This project will help us avoid so many problems; we will lose less customers and lose less money.”

So, the rule with the elephant is say what is on your mind.

And the rule on persuading is to say what is on their mind.

With my love and best wishes


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