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How to (not) create buy-in for your vision

My participation in the Fort Worth Portrait Project‘s Profiles of Leadership program continues to challenge me to dig deeply into my ongoing leadership journey. And to root through old photos to find gems like this one. 

This is me, demonstrating how not to persuade anyone to do anything.

I know, I know. Sometimes it seems like only way to get things done is to flex your muscles and blame the other guy. Tapping into negative emotions like anger and fear is a powerful tool. Politicians, captains, spouses and bosses have been using this technique since the beginning of time. But if you’re the kind of leader who wants to build your house on durable rock instead of fickle sand, you’ve got to close, not widen, the distance between.

Unlike the “me” in this photo, life has taught me that rallying people to your point of view requires you to remove your own tinted view of the world and take your arrogant elbows off the table (yes, mom). Instead, open your posture, tame your body language, and rather than driving home points, rely on your strength of character, vision, patience and upbeat and persistent passion.

Picture the prototypical Venn diagram. Your world view is one circle; theirs is the other. When you can move each other’s world view close enough together for everyone to see the overlap, baby, that’s when the magic happens.

How do you made John Venn proud? Here are my Top Ten tips for persuading others. For good.

  • The first “win” in “win-win” belongs to the other person.
  • Know what to ask for, and know what you will and won’t compromise on.
  • Asking and listening before pitching and selling.
  • “No” means “listen better.”
  • What motivates you may not motivate the other person.
  • You took time to develop your vision. Give him/her time to catch up to you.
  • Your real goal is to earn the other person’s trust.
  • Establish milestones together and celebrate achieving them together.
  • The fifty-first time you follow-up is as important as the first.
  • Take the blame. Give the credit.

Footnote: Fear not. This is a photo of me goofing around, not running a press conference, a panel discussion or a meeting. When this photo was taken, I thought it was funny and used it as my Facebook profile photo until so many people asked me who it was, I took it down. I’ll take that as a good sign.

This story was originally published on May 9, 2017.