There are three key skills for conducting successful influence conversations
- Inquiry: Asking how they understand it
- Acknowledgement: Demonstrating understanding of their story and having empathy for their feelings
- Advocacy: Explaining how you understand it
From there, you can find common ground, as well as differences, as you begin to explain the data you see, and what your interpretations of the data is and how you arrive at your conclusions.
This whole process can be viewed as two different ladders. This tool is called the Ladder of Inference.
As you use the three skills to go down their ladder and up yours, keep these tips in mind for each skill:
- Seek to elicit their story or point of view, their feelings, and the impact of your actions on them
- Help them walk down their ladder and share specifics about key information, assumptions, and reasoning underlying their conclusions
- Get curious: ask yourself "What am I missing?" "What might they know that I don't?"
- Assume they have thought about these things that they have not addressed; ask how
- Put their story at least as eloquently as they did
- Test the accuracy of your understanding and whether the other person feels heard
- Name their feelings as well as their logic
- Communicate empathy - the sense that you can understand their feelings in the context of their story (how they make sense)
- Remember that you can demonstrate understanding of their story without signaling agreement (or disagreement)
- Acknowledgement ≠ agreement
- Put your story / point of view forward as a theory to be tested
- Walk them up your ladder and offer specifics on key information, assumptions, and reasoning underlying your conclusions
- Include your story, your feelings, and the impact of their actions on you
- End with a request for comment, especially about what is missing, unaddressed, unclear, or unpersuasive