Language is leverage

Dan Gregory @DanGregoryCo

Virtually every piece of information you take in, whether consciously or unconsciously, is laden with biases, judgement and meaning. It's all to do with the language the information is framed in.

For instance, consider the following questions:

  1. “Are you more afraid of never doing great work… or of losing a job that will never allow you to do the work you were born to do?”

This is a plainly manipulative message designed to have you consider a particular outcome - i.e. a work-life bereft of meaning. Compare this to the following:

  1. “Are you more interested in providing the safe and reliable financial environment your family deserves… or do you consider your own professional ambitions to be more important?”

Again, clearly designed to persuade, just in the opposite direction.

Now these questions have been exaggerated for clarity, however, every conversation, every news article you read, every tweet, post, piece of marketing or sales pitch you are exposed to is laced with the language of leverage.

This makes applying a filter to all you hear, read and digest incredibly important.

But it is just as important, we should all remember to choose our words carefully.

Frame your value in our values

Dan Gregory @DanGregoryCo

The sale, or engagement, or support, or participation is always more determined by those we wish to influence than we "influencers" would like to imagine. In other words, our value lies not in our product or service or idea, but in their values.

This is largely due to the fact that we filter our decisions through a values hierarchy that is unique to our personality and experience.

Some of us have family as our Number 1 value, whereas others, tend to think of family as people we visit in the holidays... and more out of a sense of obligation and guilt than of pleasure. If you haven't heard from a family member since December... well... it's you!

However, if we want to be influential and engaging, we need to stop judging the values of others and learn to frame our objectives, our goals, our arguments in termsof their values.

I became a White Ribbon Ambassador and Board Director for this very reason. I, as a man, have never experienced the violence of a man against a woman, nor have I ever witnessed it in my own family life. And yet, I spend a good part of my week campaigning to end it's prevalence in our society.

I do this because, rather than telling me about theirwork, theirworld view, theirprograms, they demonstrated how women's safety was a man's issue... how it was, in fact, myissue.

A fact illustrated by a simple but compelling headline, written in an unremarkable font on a plain B&W poster by Tom McElligott and Nancy Rice. It simply reads, "One in four women will be raped in her lifetime. Will it be you Mother? Your Sister? Your Daughter? Or you Wife?"

This simple poster powerfully illustrates how great leaders and persuasive business people drive willing participation by framing their world view - in ours!

Who do you help us to be?

Dan Gregory   @DanGregoryCo

Too often we spend our time focused on what we want people to do or how we would like them to behave.

We issue instructions to our staff, offer feedback to our teams and try to persuade our customers and clients using features and benefits - both logical and emotional.

The problem is, that’s not how most of us are filtering the world.

Every decision we make is to some extent determined by our sense of identity - who we think we are AND who we want to project to the world that we are.

This is an unconscious influence and bias in our lives that we are often scarcely aware of.

However, factors such as our gender, our nationality, the values we absorbed in childhood, the idiocincocies of our version of whatever language we speak, the uniform of our socio-economic status or the part of town we’re from, drive our decision making far more than any other factor.

The truth is, the sale is always in the prospect, not the product.

Influence and persuasion are always sitting on the other side of the table.

And if we want to engage our staff, our customers, our loved ones and our communities, we need to stop telling people what we want them to do or how great our product or service is and focus more on who we help them to be.

In other words, start with WHO.