MT Expert - People: Your way or the highway?

Convincing people that your idea is the right one isn't all that complicated, says Pamela Milne.

by Pamela Milne
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Communication can be frustrating: particularly when it involves trying to convince others that your idea is the right one. Sometimes, no matter how good the idea is, words get in the way and people fail to catch your drift.

That’s partly because creative people tend to think differently. Thus, when you get all enthusiastic about the best idea you’ve ever had, your counterparts somehow just don’t get what you are saying or understand the benefits that just seem so obvious to you.

So how do you get other people to listen? Firstly you need to understand about different psychological types. Writing in 1921, the psychologist Carl Jung identified four ways in which people preferred to communicate and view the world. ‘Intuitors’ tend to have lots of great ideas and are constantly trying to improve the way things work – and if you’ve had problems convincing people you’re right in the past, chances are this is your dominant style.

The ‘Thinker’, on the other hand, is characterised by organisation and logic and the phrase ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’. Thinkers don’t really understand why other people aren’t more like them – it seems like such an obvious way to be.

The ‘Feeler’ is characterised by how they feel about things and they tend to interpret people and events in terms of good or bad. They need to feel comfortable about people and situations that they come across.

Lastly, ‘Sensor’ behaviour is characterised by action. They don’t need long explanations of events, ideas or feelings and are able to make rapid and often highly accurate decisions based on their reading of the situation they are presented with.

So when the Intuitor has a great idea and tries to sell it to his colleagues, unless he or she is lucky to work in a creative environment surrounded by other Intuitors, they need to adapt to how they communicate to get the other three styles on board.

Looked at like this, it’s fairly straightforward: when talking to a Thinker, tell them all the background to the project, the cost, the benefits, how long it would take to implement the idea and the steps you would need to take to get it off the ground. And  be prepared to keep going: Thinkers like a lot of information.

To influence a Feeler, on the other hand. emphasise the human touch and the benefits to people. In fact, the best way to do it is to pull up a chair and gradually introduce your ideas over a coffee.

Sensors, on the other hand, just need the business benefits, the cost and when you can do it. If you manage to sell your idea to them using this approach you should be ready to move on the project almost straightaway. Understand the different ways people communicate, and you can massively raise the chances of having your ideas adopted – without having to resort to sign language.

- The People Skills Revolution is available now, priced £16.99 from Global Professional Publishing. Available in all good bookshops

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