Oct 10, 2012
Jim Treliving and Arlene Dickinson have added published author to their lists of career achievements. Harper Collins has published Jim's Decisions: Making the Right Ones, Righting the Wrong Ones (Get it online from Amazon or Indigo) and Arlene's Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds" (Get it online from Amazon or Indigo.
Every week we'll publish an excerpt from one of these books that ties into the lessons from that week's episode. This week we turn to page 169 from Arlene's Persuasion:
"I'm not sure empathy can be taught. It seems to me more likely that the ability to really feel for another person is something you either have or don't have. And clearly, it exists on a spectrum. Some people are incredibly empathetic; others have empathy only for family members - if that.
"What I do know is that empathy is not a negative in the workplace, despite what many people believe. The conventional wisdom is that if you feel too much for others, you lack the toughness it takes to get ahead. It's just not true. In fact, if you are able to put yourself in another person's shoes, you're more likely to be able to persuade them to walk with you in the direction you in the direction you want to go.
"Think about it. If before every meeting you tried to imagine what it feels like to sit on the other side of the table, the meeting would probably go better. You would almost certainly be more persuasive simply because, right from the start, you'd be focused outward rather than inward. At Venture when we're pitching, for instance, we try to figure out how those on the other side of the table will feel about the meeting. Have they just sat through a few pitches and so are likely to be bored and restless? Then we'd better keep ours lively and get to the point quickly. Is there an elephant in the room? We'll get it on the table right away to make it less awkward for the other party and to create the possibility of a real dialogue. For instance, I knew going into one initial pitch that the president and the head of sales were at odds with each other, and also that it would be impossible for either of them to bring this up directly in front of me - so I did it for them, acknowledging that they had different agendas and needed to stop working at cross-purposes and start focusing on a shared outcome.
"Taking other people's feelings into account doesn't make you less tough. In fact, it strengthens your appeal. It's just never a bad idea to consider how the world looks to the person you're trying to persuade. Usually that means you have to consider context, in the same way you would if you were trying to persuade your husband to go to the ballet rather than the hockey game - or vice versa. You'd almost certainly have better luck if you floated the idea over a nice dinner than you would if you brought up the topic in the middle of a heated argument about your in-laws. Similarly, you need to choose your moment if you're approaching your manager for time off or a pay raise. Think about what that person may be going through and whether your request will feel reasonable and easily solved or like the capper to a nightmarish day."Excerpt from: Persuasion by Arlene Dickinson. Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Copyright © 2011 by 761250 Alberta Ltd. All Rights Reserved.