How to get your ideas heard and happening

“Now, what you should do is…” And “well, it’s obvious, you should do this.” “Then you should do that, and then you should tell them that you’ve done it”. Should do – it’s a real flash point and common provocateur that ruins its speaker’s chances of getting what they want, not to mention their overall power of persuasion, writes business communications consultant Kay White, of Way Forward Solutions.

I should do therefore I won’t

That’s partly because what you should do; what you want to do and what you actually end up doing are often very different things. Even if the advice we’ve been given by the speaker of ‘should do’ is spot on, the mere fact that we’ve been told ‘should do’ is often the very reason we don’t.

It follows that if that’s the reaction we have, it’s the reaction that others will have when we ‘should’ all over them.Just as it sounds, it really can be quite an unpleasant experience being on the receiving end of a ‘should-do’ barrage.

Me considerably smarter than you

There’s something innately irritating to be told we should be doing something. It implies – this is the subtle, savvy part to understand – that we’re not doing something and that the other person is wiser that we are.

It’s implicit that we’ve missed a trick and they haven’t. That they know better exactly what will work for us. Well, in reality, we know best – better than anyone – when it comes to what works for us and making a decision ourselves and then sticking to it is always more powerful than carrying out other people’s advice.We own the outcome and, as such, are responsible for the result.

One of the key elements of being an influential communicator is putting across your ideas, suggestions or advice and letting the other person decide for themselves how, and if, it will work for them. It then becomes their decision, their action. This principle applies just as effectively, if not more so, at home with our families and friends.

So with agents, clients or colleagues, how do you get across your idea, suggestion, or piece of advice without saying “what you should do is” or “I think you should…”?

The three ‘should-do’ workarounds

Here are three quick, easy and tried and tested ways for you to respond:

  1. Start with “I’ve got an idea for you...” This way you’re putting out that it’s only an idea and it’s NOT for you to contemplate and understand if and how it will work.Used with “I’ve got,” you’re effectively telling the other person “OK, I’m ready with something that I think you’ll want, but it’s up to you what you do with it.”
  2. Say “Can I make a suggestion here?”Similarly, you’re putting across that you have something to offer and you want to get their buy-in before you just throw it at them.Nine times out of ten, if you’ve read the situation and your relationship correctly, the other person will say “yes please”.
  3. Think aloud – “hmmm” then say “that’s tricky, now I wonder if…” You can hear (and hopefully feel) that you’re firstly empathising that they have an issue or something tricky going on. The unspoken subtext you’re sending out - they’re not an idiot. Secondly, “I wonder if,” is a pensive, non-confrontational way of offering your idea or suggestion.

With all of the three techniques above, avoiding the word ‘should’ once you start with these phrases is crucial. You should definitely keep this in mind. You see; frustrating isn’t it?!

Less fixed speaker = More receptive listener

At all times remember, by offering your thoughts in a less fixed way, you leave the other person open to taking on what you think but without your judgement (intentional or otherwise) behind it.

So, can I make a suggestion here? Try my three phrases the next time you feel yourself about to say “well, you should” or “oh, it’s obvious, what you should do is…” You’ll notice the difference in how easily the other party takes on what you think – and if they ignore you, at least that both you and they will know that you contributed your thoughts. As is always the case – the listener has two choices.Take it. Or leave it.Thanks to your cool-headed and inoffensive start, I bet they’ll take it more often than not!

Article, reproduced with permission, by Kay White, communication expert and mentor at . Kay shows professionals how to get quicker more profitable results and build stronger connections by becoming a more effective, influential and savvy communicator. Kay’s first book, The A to Z of Being Understood is a Number 1 Amazon Bestseller for Customer Service.



13th July 2011

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