Could your influencing style learn from the CIA?

“When it comes to influencing others, I only have one strategy. I make my point, and if they don’t get it, I make my point again. And if that fails I have no Plan B”.

I came across this, pretty much verbatim, in a conversation with a Senior Manager recently. Truth to tell, I come across it all the time.

I was reminded of it when I read this headline in Newsweek magazine of 6 Feb 2015:

USA develops new “soft” techniques to end torture

The article went on to say that new CIA methods rely on emotional intelligence, empathy and language skills to replace violent coercion.  There’s a quote in there: “If we treat people like human beings rather than “subjects” we elicit better results”.
 

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

It’s not my purpose to underplay the huge issues involved in the use of torture in critical situations. On the other hand if “emotional intelligence” and “empathy” don’t sound like words we would normally associate with the CIA and its “influencing techniques”, maybe it’s also time to pause and ask if they are words people would associate with us.

Is it time to get a little more emotional intelligence and empathy into our own influencing style? And might we just possibly get better results if we did?

It all reminds me of the caricature of the Englishman abroad, who when failing to make himself understood, simply relies on saying it again, but this time louder and slower. Not much of a Plan B there either.

Of course, having a logical and well thought out point of view is normally an essential component of being an effective influencer. But it’s rarely enough, and the more there is at stake, the more other skills come into play. Understanding the other person’s point of view (empathy) and being able to adapt to it (emotional intelligence) are equally critical.

And if you do need help with this, please do get in touch

After all, even the CIA can change.

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