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A little known influence approach to sidestep resistance

Campbell Such | June 30, 2015
An ‘indirect but powerful quote' is a useful tool for CIOs leading projects that impact a lot of users, from executive peers to discerning customers.

He quoted word-for-word what the doctor had actually said and acted it out as though he was the doctor saying it himself:

"Get a flu shot every year. You'd be crazy not to. The vaccines are safe with no evidence of any risks. They protect against the known strains -- which are also the most likely ones you'll come in contact with. But the big reason to get the vaccination is that the flu damages your organs! Every time you get the flu it damages them a bit more. Don't risk what that cumulative damage can do over your lifetime!"

By doing this Alan delivered the message in a very powerful way that completely bypassed any resistance I might have had. And in that instant I realised I needed to get a flu injection.

There are two key parts in this powerful, easy to implement, influence approach:

1. Tell the other party what you want to tell them by quoting what someone else has said to you.

2. Use the same voice, tonality and body/arm movements that this other person used as they told it to you. You effectively act out what they did, mimicking them, as you are telling it.

By doing this you completely bypass natural resistance. The person you're communicating with hears and considers whether there is a benefit for them -- they don't react to you. It works because you're not telling the other person what to do; you're just relaying something you had heard.

The key to this approach is that the other person's automatic resistance to being "told what to do" doesn't kick in. Because it's someone else's words or something you have said to yourself, they don't have anything to react to or resist. They just hear it and get to make up their own mind about whether it could make their life better. It's the seed of an idea, or change, that can take root and grow so they feel it's their own. It gets a chance to become "their idea".

Won't they know what I'm doing?

It's highly unlikely, because all you're doing is telling them a story and acting it out. It's just normal, everyday behaviour, like when a friend or colleague enthusiastically recounts something that someone else told them.

In fact, what happened to me graphically illustrated the real power of it, because even though I knew what was happening, Alan still got the message through and it changed my mind.

This is a powerful influence approach. It's easy to use.....once you get over the initial odd feeling of mimicking someone else.

You might want to start now, mentally noting and collecting interactions, stories and conversations, which you could use to help get your ideas across.

As Vince Harris says in his outstanding book, The Productivity Epiphany, "You're off your rocker if you don't use the power of placing suggestions inside of quotes when talking to other people."


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