If you want greater influence, make your messages more relatable.
Recently I was asked how my messages were so readily accepted by others. Before I had a chance to answer, another person present in the discussion said “He couches his messages in experiences we all have.”
That response was spot on. I intentionally frame my messages in experiences we all have. My goal in doing so is to have people validate my messages with their own experiences. In other words, I don’t ask others to trust me. As we all know, trusting others is difficult. We are ever alert, as we should be, to the possibility that others may not have our best interests at heart.
The additional benefit of framing my messages in everyday experiences is that I gain influence. It’s not my goal, but is a decided benefit of my effort. With greater influence, and credibility, I am able to help others more quickly and effectively than I might otherwise be able to do.
What does this mean for you and the kids in your life?
If you want your messages accepted more readily, if you want to avoid the frustration of having others ignore advice intended to help them, if you want instant credibility with others, then train yourself to frame your messages in the language of everyday experiences.
When developing your message, think about situations that you’ve faced that enabled you to gain the awareness that led to the message you’re about to deliver. There’s a commonality to our humanity that enables us to experience the same effects as others to the situations we face. Then, use that situation as an example of the message you’re delivering. Here’s an example to illustrate my point.
During one of my programs, I ask the audience to raise their hands if they get frustrated while driving. All hands go up. Then I ask them to pair up with someone. I give them 30 seconds to share with one another how they contribute to the frustration they experience. Finally, I ask whether their perception of the other person was impacted by the person’s admission of their contribution to the problem. The vast majority indicate that their perception hasn’t changed at all; some say that they felt the person was more credible for having made their admission.
My goal with this exercise is to:
- Make them aware that they contribute to every problem they face.
- Make them aware that admitting their contribution to the problem doesn’t hurt, and may enhance, their credibility.
They accept both premises because they validated both messages with their own experiences. Couching your messages in others’ daily experiences is as simple as that.
One caveat. Earlier I mentioned that you can avoid the frustration of having others’ ignore your advice; that’s not a guaranteed result. The other person has to be open to accepting advice and interested in changing in order for your advice…regardless of how well couched in daily experience…to be accepted. In situations like this, take solace in knowing that you tried. We can only shine a light on a path for others; we can’t make them walk the path. Awareness of this is especially helpful in dealing with teenagers.
For our kids
When you hear your kids making a point, ask them “Can you give me an example of how that works?” As they develop a response to your question, they gain greater understanding of the concept they’re expressing and become aware of how much more powerful their message is when they attach a relatable experience to it.
The more frequently you ask the question “Can you give me an example of how that works?”, the more quickly they’ll develop the habit of framing their messages in relatable experiences. This simple step will help them enjoy greater influence throughout their lives…for the greater good of all they meet.
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