If you want to communicate convincingly and persuasively with anyone, there’s one step you must always take.
You need to accept that other people see the world differently from you. When you accept that, you will be ready to see it ‘through their eyes’ and get your message across more effectively.
Most people are ineffective in communication because they use arguments and messages that appeal to themselves or which worked with one particular audience.
Many coaches, consultants and other experts fail in marketing because they create products or services that reflect their own views or desires rather than the needs of their customers.
The truth is we all have different opinions and our minds work in different ways based on our own experiences and education.
As a result, communication and marketing that works with one person or group of people will not automatically work with another.
The secret of making your communication and marketing more effective is to see something wholly from the perspective of your customer or audience.
The more effectively you are able to do that, the more successful you will be.
In Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, he tells a story about somebody going to an optometrist with an eye problem.
- The patient says, ‘The problem is that I can’t read.’
- The optometrist says, ‘That’s funny. I’ve got exactly the same problem. Here are my glasses.’ He hands over the glasses.
- The patient says, ‘It’s no good. I still can’t read.’
- The optometrist says, ‘Well, that’s strange. It works for me. I don’t understand why it shouldn’t work for you.’
The habit he is discussing is ‘Before you seek to be understood, seek first to understand.’
If you can see the world through your the eyes of your audience or customer, you will have a much greater chance of persuading them to take the action you want.
The power of ‘perceptual positions’
If you want to see things from another person’s perspective, there’s a very useful technique called perceptual positions, which can be used very easily and effectively.
It allows you to view a situation through your own eyes, through the eyes of the other person involved and from the perspective of an independent observer.
So start by imagining a situation where you want to understand what someone else thinks. You can apply this, for example, if you are seeking to sell something or you are in a negotiation or you have had a disagreement with someone.
- First, look at the situation as normal through your own eyes. Listen to what the other person is saying, what you are saying out loud and what you are saying to yourself. Notice what it feels like to be with this other person, what you feel about them, about yourself and the relationship with them. Then notice what you have learned about yourself and the other person from your normal position and hold on to that memory.
- Second, imagine you are the other person. Move to a different seat where you would imagine them sitting. Then view the whole interaction with you through the other person’s eyes, noticing what you look like from this perspective. Imagine how they would hear what you are saying as if you were listening through their ears. Feel what it is like to be the other person, what you feel about yourself from the other person’s perspective. Then notice what you have learned about yourself and the other person by viewing the interaction from their perspective and hold on to that memory.
- Third, view the experience through the eyes of a neutral observer. Think of it as being like a fly on the wall or a video camera. Listen to yourself and the other person talking to one another. Then notice what you have learned about yourself and the other person from this neutral position and hold on to that memory.
By looking at a situation from three different perspectives, you have a lot more information than you would have just viewing it from your own position.
Remember what you noticed in each of the three situations and think about what you could now do differently to influence your relationship with that person more positively.
Think about how you can use that information to get the result you want.
You might find that you make a very small change in what you are doing or a significant one. It might be one thing or several things. Notice how next time you are with that person you can try some different behavior or different communication and perhaps you’ll see different results.
When you can harness the power of the seeing the world through somebody else’s eyes, you will have a clear insight into how to persuade them to your point of view.