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What to Do When Your Audience Thinks Different

Getting Your Idea Across to Business People who Think Different from You

It is tempting to present your ideas in the same manner that convinced you.

Your job was to collect and analyze the data not to present that data. Your job is to present the conclusion with 3 strong reasons why it is the best solution.

Then ask for questions and thoughts, followed by a quick repeat of the conclusion.

How to prove your point

Data may prove your point and drive away your audience at the same time

When we are trying to make a point, attract followers and support for an idea, we don’t want to appear to be expressing only our unsubstantiated opinions.

What to do? Use diagrams, not graphs and charts, use diagrams, simple drawings that make your point quickly and easily.

Grab a piece of paper or paper napkin if you are sitting in a restaurant, explain with a quick drawing. This is how it looks, this is how to get there, here is how I think it will fit, this is one way we can accomplish the goal, here is a mind map of the options we have.

Your Mental Shortcuts

Mental shortcuts, we all make them throughout the day. In a sense, they are necessary coping mechanisms your brain has been developing your whole life. Because there is no way to pay equal attention to everything within eyesight, earshot, and close enough to touch, our brain has developed filters to let in what it believes you need to know and leave out a large majority of what is going on around you.
Consider for a moment how you function during your daily drive or ride, or even walk, to work.
Most of what you pass by is a blur. Most of what you pass you take little or no interest. So much so that when you arrive at your destination you will not remember seeing or hearing most of what was actually there.
Your cognitive bias made those decisions for you. The filters you have built up to protect yourself from over stimulation and clutter worked.
But, and that is a big but, did you miss something that in the past wasn’t important but now is? Did you assume you knew what happened but really didn’t?
We can’t function in a busy world without our filters and we can’t take for granted that we didn’t miss anything important.
So what can you do? Ask others what they saw and heard. Ask for other viewpoints, other experiences, to add to your own. Be open minded about what you might have missed or added into a scene because of your filters, your own cognitive biases. They, too, have biases. Together you may both get a more complete picture.
Ask open questions and listen openly to the answers.

What if Someone Asks for Your Help With a Problem They are Having?

When an employee, family member, or friend brings you problem they are facing, how can you tell if they want solutions from you or for you to just listen?

Ask them.

Also if they are looking for a solution, ask first what they have tried or thought they could try. Get them thinking first.

Then if it does come down to offering your ideas, offer options, plural, so they can choose, and make it clear that these are ideas that if they choose something different you won’t be hurt. The choice is still their own.

Are you in the Chicago area?

This Saturday, November 10, 2018, I will be at TedX Naperville doing a follow-up to last year’s TedX talk on mind mapping. I will be coaching audience members and participants on mind mapping the speeches they hear and want to remember. If you are there, come find me and say hello.

NERVOUS ON VIDEO?

For someone like me who is at ease in front of an audience, it surprised me that I was nervous about making a video. What do you think about this?

What are your brains’s blind spots?

3346955081_25e1354feeWhat sites, blogs, or newsletters do you subscribe to now to improve your thinking and decision-making?

Everyone and anyone can improve and it should get better the older you are and the more you have learned and practiced over the years.  So what do you do to get better all the time?
Please respond to let me know.  Also if you ask your friends and associates the same question,  you will start a great conversation.
Recognizing and overcoming mental blind spots.

It may seem strange to say that you see with your brain.  Yes, the eyes are the windows.  They let in the light waves and movement that get interpreted by the brain.  If the ocular nerve (going from the eyes to the brain) or the part of the brain that interprets the signals is damaged, you don’t see.  You are blind even though there may be nothing wrong with your eyes.
We can also have a mental blind spot or mental lack of hearing spot because we are not paying attention.  Our brain has learned to ‘block out’ sights and sounds that have proven in the past not to be important to you.  You may not notice that there is music playing or people having  a conversation in the next room until someone brings it to your attention.
Mental blind spots can be there in a person’s brain about any subject and not just about sight or hearing.  You may be listening but not paying attention to someone talking to you, maybe even your spouse or parent, until suddenly they say something you really care about.  At that point it is as if your brain suddenly wakes up and pays attention.
You can be driving along the streets in your city and not take any notice whether parking is readily available until you get to the street where you will need parking.
There was a story several years ago about a man who had a large family but not much income.  During a hot summer spell his children started begging for an above ground pool for the back yard.  He told them he couldn’t afford it.  Then he left for work driving on the same highway and streets he took five days a week.  Suddenly he noticed a sign behind a house he was passing that said, “Above ground 15’ pool, free, to anyone who can pick it up.”  He pulled off at the next exit and found the house.  When he rang the doorbell he asked,”is the pool still available?  How long have you had that sign up?”  To his surprise the sign had been up for two months.  He had been passing it nearly every day and not taken notice until his children raised his awareness of wanting a pool.  His children got the pool they wanted.
We have to turn on our brain to a subject.  We have to be paying attention.  That is why trying to multitask gets in our way so often.  If you are looking at your phone you can’t be paying attention to the meeting you are attending, or the road while you are driving.

Cultivate Curiosity, Yours and Your Associates

Cultivate Curiosity, Yours and Your Associates

Close-up of a girl wearing a tiara and peeking
Young children are naturally curious.  Too often we get impatient with their incessant questions and dampen their curiosity.  Curiosity is a good thing, even a great thing.
With associates as with children, it may be advantageous to ask them a question when they ask you for an answer.  How have you tried to answer this so far?  Or how could you explore the idea yourself to find possible answers?  Be sure to encourage the thought that there may be several good answers not just one.  What options have you thought of, so far? How can you search out multiple options and then make a choice among the options?
As with all questions you ask, unless you are a teacher testing your students, only ask questions you are not already certain of the answer.  You have to be open to the ideas and answers you will hear.  You have to want to hear creative and unusual answers.
Ask, how will you explore options and compare them?
Here are some ideas to share as ways to compare and contrast possible paths to make thoughtful conclusions.
  1. Force yourself or your team to write down as many options as possible.  Challenge yourselves to list at least 10 ways to solve the problem, or some number that requires a bigger list than you think is possible.  The reason for the stretch list is that the first ones you think about will be the same old boring over-used answers.  It is only when you have to come up with larger numbers of answers that you get into the creative and interesting solutions.
  2. Some ideas that would normally get rejected without exploring will make it on to the list.
  3. Every option listed deserves some what-if and how-could-it-work analysis.
  4. Combinations and permutations of the various options can sometimes evolve into a better solution than any of the answers listed individually.
  5. The process of brainstorming options will get your brain on a roll allowing you to keep coming up with more ideas after you thought you were finished.  Keep paper and pencil or a recorder handy and record every idea no matter how far-fetched.
Your brand, your organization and you yourself will be differentiated by all the great ideas, solutions, and the ideation process itself.  People are attracted by and buy from organizations that are clearly differentiated.

Wisdom, not data, not what they can find by themselves

I am very pleased to introduce you to my email newsletter. It will periodically provide you with useful information about brainstorming and critical thinking techniques. I will also share with you related news and announcements. I hope you find my newsletter useful  and informative and I encourage you to share the information with others.

Too often our business conversations sound more like a sales presentation, and a poor one at that.  Consider that your listener can find data, information, and knowledge by looking it up on the internet or in books.  What they need and can appreciate is the wisdom to recognize how, when, where, why, and with whom to apply the knowledge.  Think about the level of conversations in which you participate.  How can you contribute more to move up a level.  This is a hierarchy of the kind of conversations possible:
 

Have you ever been accused of not listening?

Perhaps you heard the old adage, “You have two ears and one mouth, you should be listening twice as much as talking.” Here’s another one: “You can’t learn anything new when you are talking.” Listening well, listening for meaning, shows your respect for the other person, wins friends, and allows you to pick up different perspectives on a situation even if it doesn’t change your mind.

There is no better way to show respect than to really listen.


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