Several years ago, one of my clients taught me a great framework to describe how to be influential with others in the workplace.
It’s a communication approach you can use to manage direct reports, manage colleagues, and even to manage your boss.
The framework involves three steps:
If you can alter how somebody “sees” a particular situation, they automatically “think” about the situation differently. If someone changes how they “think” about a situation, they automatically “do” things differently.
In some ways, showing someone how to “see” a situation differently can often have a larger impact on what they “do” (e.g., their behaviors) in a situation, than directly trying to influence their actions.
For example, let’s say you want one of your direct reports to take on a project that involves doing boring work over two weekends.
If you ask, “Do you want to take on this project?”, he’ll say, “Well… not really.”
Or he might say, “Yes,” but do so very reluctantly.
What can you do to get your direct report to tackle this project enthusiastically and to do an outstanding job?
You can’t change the nature of the work itself. It is indeed boring.
What you can do is to help him see the project as an “opportunity” as opposed to a “chore.”
If this project involves working with the company CEO, you could decide not to frame the situation as a boring project involving weekend hours. You could instead describe it as an “opportunity” to work directly with the CEO when nobody else is around. (Never mind that nobody else is around because they are all at a local swimming pool enjoying the great weather.)
Suddenly this seemingly “boring” project is seen as an opportunity to get face time in front of the company CEO. It’s a relationship-building opportunity. It’s a senior management exposure opportunity.
The fact that the work is a bit on the boring side and involves weekend hours is secondary.
The key leverage point here isn’t to try to change the nature of the work itself. It’s to help others “see” the situation through a different perspective.
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