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“By 2029, computers will have emotional intelligence and be convincing as people”. (Ray Kurzweil, Brainyquote.com. 12.11.2014)
Do you believe in a future where computers have emotional intelligence? Can emotional intelligence be integrated into computers, when not even all human beings are capable of maximizing their potential in terms of emotional intelligence?
If you have ever worked in sales, you know how important it is to not only sound, but to actually BE, convincing. In fact, this applies to others than just salespeople, or, put in a wider perspective, we all kind of work in sales, at all times, and in all situations in life.
However, being convincing is not a synonym to being truthful. Although sales, as any other performance, should always include being truthful, there are always people who do not care so much about the truth, or who prefer creating their own truth. We find examples of these across society, of people who convince themselves first, and are color-blind to truth. I have once before quoted Anaïs Nin in this perspective: “We do not see the world as it is. We see it as we are”.
Throughout centuries, truth has been discussed by philosophers, with a number of frameworks and theories built around a single word with so much meaning. Without going deeper into the different philosophical theories about truth, I just want to pinpoint that truth can be personal, and what is true to another individual, is not necessarily true to you. Some people are very convincing without actually telling the truth (a common truth that applies to the majority of people). There are many sad stories about individuals living their personal truths with a lack of morals, and humanity. Without having to explain further, I am pretty sure that you can think of a number of these.
What does it take to be convincing? It is quite simple:
Being convincing requires having confidence and trust in yourself.
You also need to be convinced about the matter/product/situation. Selling Snow from the Sahara requires your personal conviction about the existence of snow in the Sahara. It is impossible to sell something that actually does not exist – that would equal to fooling your clients.
In solution-based, client-oriented selling you can of course, in cooperation with your customer, define their needs, and based on those needs, create a tailored solution for them. That is problem-solving with and for the client. But you cannot promise a client that you can provide them with snow from the Sahara when you both know that there is no snow in the Sahara. And even if your customer does not know this, YOU know.
Conviction includes taking moral responsibility in the first place. It also requires technical knowledge about what it is you are offering. All too often it is a fact that clients are offered various kinds of solutions by people who do not even know their products well enough. This includes not only a risk for the customer, who pays for the service/product, but also risks for the service/product provider: low quality leads to unsatisfied customers, and is a real slap in the face in regards to your brand’s image and reputation.
Want to act morally and truthfully correct? Integrate the following into your (work) life:
– Do not get involved into anything that is against your personal values/morals/knowledge/beliefs.
– Always be truthful to your clients/people around you.
– Know your product/service before actually offering it to your clients. If there is something you do not know, make sure to inform yourself so that you do not let your clients down.
– Take responsibility. True professionals and experts have not only a broad knowledge in their field, but are also continuously developing themselves, and seek to transform their knowledge into wisdom.
– Live as you teach. There is no point in saying something, but acting in the opposite way.
“You cannot convince anyone of anything. You can only give them the right information in order for them to convince themselves”. (Eben Pagan. Quote Essays.com. 12.11.2014).
“There is no such thing as a good influence. To influence a person is to give him one’s own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else’s music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him”.
(Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray)
Do you agree with Oscar Wilde´s citation? That good influence does not exist, since the purpose of all influence is to transfer one person´s feelings and ideas to another person, thus affecting the other person´s behavior?
One thing is for sure: Oscar Wilde´s words include a lot of truth. With our feelings, thoughts, knowledge and actions we all do have more or less influence on people around us. The line between influence and manipulation, however, is often quite subtle. And the difference between influence and manipulation is merely that influence is often regarded as being something positive, while manipulation, a term originating from the Latin word manus (hand), means processing, and very often has a negative meaning while it refers to misleading, or forgery of evidence. Manipulation can also refer to concrete handling of something, e.g. the manipulation of stock markets. There are definitely many kinds of manipulation, such as magician card tricks. In this post, however, I refer to psychological manipulation, which actively aims at having an effect on someone´s, or something´s, behavior and thoughts.
Influence, on the other hand, is the power of affecting, controlling or manipulating someone, or something; the ability of triggering change in the development of fluctuation in things, including thoughts, or decisions. Thus, manipulation can be regarded as the negative version of influence, although even influence itself can be regarded less positive.
Influence can be actual, bad, beneficial, big, cultural, economic, good, harmful, heavy, huge, important, intellectual, mental, military, moral, negative, personal, positive, potential, primary, significant, social…and much more.
Influence and manipulation are constant energies in our societies, and environments, starting from a crying baby´s cradle trying to manipulate (or influence?) its parents towards an action. Hence, the most primary ways of manipulation and influence can be observed in a child´s world. At least one could think so. However, very primitive influencing and manipulation techniques exist in all age groups, depending upon many different factors, such as an individual´s learned patterns, defense mechanisms, sense of self, morals, and ethics. An individual usually behaves in a way that he/she thinks is correct, without perhaps knowing or understanding better. Thus, bad influence and bad manipulation, unfortunately, together with primitive behavior, equally exists amongst all age groups.
How can we learn to identify different ways of manipulation, and influence? And how can we cope with these? How can we make sure not to be the one´s negatively influencing, or manipulating other people, organizations, whole societies, or e.g. the economy?
There are no simple responses to these questions. Since manipulation, and influence, both occur on a common level in our societies, it can often even be difficult to take notice when someone, or something, is influencing or manipulating you. Very often people influence or manipulate us without even noticing it themselves. Therefore, both influence and manipulation can happen somewhat by mistake.
A good guide for protecting yourself against both influence, and manipulation, is to listen to your intuition, and feelings. Another important thing is to stay grounded, and centered – again, listening to your intuition and your feelings rather than being too much affected by external sources or distractions. It is of course possible to learn these through experience, which can sometimes be a tough life lesson, especially if you are someone who is easily influenced or manipulated. There is much literature available upon influence and manipulation, the different types of both, and how to respond to either external influence or manipulation.
Leading by example and being a positive role model is a way of making sure that you are not the one with the negative influence (or manipulation). Changing other people is impossible. Therefore, if we wish to trigger positive change, and be role models, we need to work on ourselves, on our behavior, our actions, our personal wisdom, and on our growth as responsible individuals in our societies.
“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours”.
(Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)
“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught”. (J.C. Watts)
Pfeffer and Sutton (Harvard Business School Press 2000), have in their publication “The Knowing-Doing Gap – How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action” addressed something very relevant. Not only is this book useful for enterprises, but also for organizations, governments, societies, and for an individual ́s personal life. The basic facts and ideas can be used as an effective change tool, applied and lived by every day, and in long-term planning.
The Knowing-Doing Gap signifies a gap between our thoughts/knowledge and our actions. Many people are aware of their actions, yet are not always capable of changing themselves. Others are not even aware of some of their actions, yet about the consequences. Unfortunately, the latter applies to too many of us. Why?
It is a fact that most of us are aware of grievances, be it in our personal lives, in our neighborhood, in our city, at school, in our workplace, or in society in general. This is the KNOWLEDGE part Knowing-Doing Gap.
DOING, or taking ACTION, in order to improve things – could be in personal life, in someone else’s life, correcting iniquities, working towards improving e.g. work processes and or workplace circumstances, taking action to improve the state of e.g. the environment, human rights issues, developing authentic leadership and so on – is the ACTIVE part of the Knowing-Doing Gap.
We are all aware of the fact that in order to change things, and circumstances, improving conditions be it in our own lives, in education, at work, in society, we need to take action, instead of just waiting for something to happen.
Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The actions must not always be big. What is important, is to overcome inactivity, procrastination, and fear. Be willing to step up, step forward, and start by influencing things you can influence, and taking those steps you are capable of taking. Do not be afraid, instead, challenge your fears and notice how your life and surrounding changes as you begin living, and working, for the things you believe in. Very often, you will take two steps forward and one step back, but do not let it stop you. Every small progress counts, every little action in order to improve things – anything.
“You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. (Shirley Chisholm)