How can you gain the cooperation and support from others to reach agreement in a negotiation or to bring a new idea or strategy to life without hassle?
Getting others to do what you want them to do differently is hard.
One big reason is the belief that telling people, appealing to their rationale, is the shortest route to persuade someone. It’s actually the longest route to nowhere, because many people don’t like to be told what to do. They perceive it as an infringement of their autonomy and react to that by resisting and doing the opposite of what you request.
This has nothing to do with their ability to understand what you’re asking of them, but it all comes down to how you relate with them.
Another big reason is that many people don’t like uncertainty. If what you request of them is not clear or if it’s not clear what it means for them, people are rather safe than sorry. They will stick with the status quo even when this leaves them in a situation that is far from pleasant.
A third big reason is that it may be clear what you want to achieve and seek to gain, but the interests and concerns of others are underappreciated or overlooked in the process. People like to be heard, seen, and understood. When they have the impression that this desire is not recognised, they can make this known through various forms of resistance, but they can also disengage and walk away.
The problem in all these instances is that we tend to start from what we want and what is in it for us. It’s a me-centric approach to negotiation or leading change.
It’s natural to see the world from our own point of view. The pitfall is to assume that others see the world like we do and, therefore, that what we request of them is obvious and logical.
Often, it isn’t. Other people see the world through their own lenses, which are shaped and influenced by the beliefs, stories, experiences and knowledge that matter to them. As a result, your request may not be obvious and logical to them at all and, therefore, unclear why it would be beneficial for them to act on it. Hence, they say ‘no’. You would do the same.
If there is no upside, there is no incentive to cooperate.
To improve your chances of a ‘yes’, you need to start from the other person or party’s point of view. This requires empathy, active listening, and curiosity before you enter the negotation or communicate your strategy or idea for change.
The game-changer here is to come to a deep understanding of what the other person or party really (emotionally) cares about, what is holding them back from achieving it, and identifying what they would benefit from most. If you can pinpoint that in your preparation and then use these insights to align their incentives with yours during the dialogue, you can turn a ‘yes’ into an enthusiastic ‘YES!’