The Art of Change Skills for Life

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How to Speak to Communication Needs: Blending with Need-Style (Part 3)

June 6, 2008 Persuasion 7

The Art Of Change–Blend with Need-Style, Dr. Rick Kirschner

In a recent post I shared How to Hear What a Person Needs in their Interactions with You: Blending with Need-Style. We talked about how the four communication needs, action, accuracy, approval and appreciation, get communicated through the style or structure by which a person speaks.

In your quest for improving your essential communication skills (I am assuming you are on this quest–as are most of us) there are indicators you can look for that allow you to speak to the specific need. We also talked about those indicators.

The next post covered how you can speak to the need for two of the communication needs: action and accuracy.

Today I will provide you with ideas for speaking to the need for the next communication need: approval.

Approval: Be Friendly and Considerate

The person with a need for approval will speak indirectly and express concern for the opinions and feelings of others. This person will… constantly check back to avoid giving offense, and she will be sensitive to the other person’s needs and have great respect for their time. “Is this a good time? Would you like me to come back later? Yes? No? You tell me, I’ll understand. Do you think we should do it? Never mind, I’m sorry to have bothered you, I’ll just do it myself.

Blending reveals that when a person is indirect and talks in a considerate manner, you want to be indirect and considerate in your communications with her.

In the next post, we will discuss the fourth communication need: appreciation.

Think about how you can apply these communication needs and responses in your persuasion efforts. I suggest that you practice delivering your persuasion proposition using these three communication need-styles. Then you will be prepared for any of them.

Change your mind. Change your life. Change your world.

Be well,

Dr. Rick

Related posts:
1. Flexibility Increases Your Persuasive Ability
2. Persuading with Integrity: Questions Have Persuasive Power

 

7 Responses

  1. J.D. Meier says:

    Good distillations and distinctions

    How to connect the dots? …

    If these are true …
    – Action – Blending reveals that when a person is direct and to the point, you want to be direct and to the point
    – Accuracy – Blending reveals that when a person is indirect and detailed, you want to be indirect and detailed in your communications
    – Approval – Blending reveals that when a person is indirect and talks in a considerate manner, you want to be indirect and considerate in your communications

    … then, which underlying principles make them effective?
    (for example, “similarities bind”? “rapport before influence”? “people like people that are like themselves?” “empathy?” “matching/mirroring”?)

    Somewhat related — is there any compelling research on what trumps what? (content vs. style vs. intention vs. tone … we all know the “it’s now what you said, it’s how you said it” )

  2. Hey J.D., thanks for your questions.

    In fact, I have read a few studies that support this idea of blending, though one can always find fault with how a study is conducted. More to the point, I’m not offering these ideas as truth. As I sometimes tell my audiences, maybe I don’t know the truth. Maybe I know the truth but you can’t handle the truth! (On that note, I was doing my best written Jack Nicholson impression from the movie A Few Good Men!)

    Instead, I’m offering these ideas as merely a model. A model is a construct of how things work. A good model allows us to do things, try things, organize our perceptions to find out useful and interesting things. And the cool thing about a model is that it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to work.

    The only way to find out if this model works is to work with it. I invite my readers to do exactly that, and then join this conversation to share your observations about and experiences with what happens when you blend with Need-Style.

    be well,
    Rick

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    I thought you sounded a little like Jack!

    Yep – a model is like a map — it’s not the territory (how’s that saying go — all models are wrong, but some are useful)

    I think the needs style helps with the rapport stage. Consider this:
    – people like people who are like themselves, except people who don’t like themselves
    – sometimes it’s a Yin/Yang scenario where somebody makes the void, so the other can fill the gap (or vice-versa.)

    … With that in mind, I think the question is — when do you need to do the opposite of blending/matching and what are the clues?

  4. When not to blend?

    I guess don’t blend with people when you see no reason, don’t feel like it, or you no longer care what’s being talked about/not talked about. People move towards people when they have a reason, or when emotionally triggered, or both. People move away when the reason no longer makes sense, or the emotion fades. I think most people do it just like this most the time.

    To me, choosing to blend means choosing to continue.

    However, if there is a time when I choose not to blend, it’s when I don’t want something to continue as a result of my attention or involvement. That can happen in small ways, and that can happen in big ways. Let’s say that the conversation turns down a road you think better left untraveled, so to speak. Then not blending with that part of the conversation is a diverting measure .

    Or, let’s say someone becomes pompous, negative, obnoxious, or seriously disruptive, or in some other way behaves in an increasingly undesirable (by me) sort of way. And let’s say that it doesn’t matter to me, because I have other options. If I had been blending, I might stop, then start moving away. Or, if I can invoke credible consequences, I might state the consequences in order to blend with doubts and desires.

    I would do everything to take the next step, which might be to get away. Unless i was in a position to have my way. Or make them go away. But as long as I want the person to stay,or I want to stay, then as far as I’m concerned, blending is the way.

  5. J.D. Meier says:

    It sounds like you’re saying blending is the way to stay and that not blending is the way to not stay. I think that’s true for rapport and when needs aren’t met, throughout the dialogue.

    I’m looking for the “opposites attract” scenario — or the phase/stage in a dialogue when it’s important to shift gears. In the workplace, I see scenarios where indirect is attracted to direct — as though the pattern for a successful leader, paces first by matching/mirroring “approval” with indirect, then shifts to direct / action.

    I’m shining the light on this fine point because I think I’ve watched scenarios where a group wanted the leader to be less like themselves in their dialogue. In other words, at some points, it seems like there’s “opposite attract” scenarios. I do think blending for needs works because “opposites attract, but similarities bind” .. but there’s it would be great to crack the nut on when “opposites” make sense (not to not stay … but to continue stronger.)

  6. Hmmm. J.D., You’re interested in the opposites attract scenario, and I must say that your raising the issue attracted my interest. I’ve always believed there was a ring of truth to that idea. I was once told by a mentor that if you have two people in a relationship who are the same, one of them isn’t necessary! And clearly, in nature, opposites attract when it comes to magnets, electrons and a few other things.

    So, here’s the thing. Apparently, when it comes to people, that just ain’t so! (See,’ American Psychological Association (2005, February 15). Do Opposites Attract Or Do Birds Of A Feather Flock Together?’) When it comes to dealing with each other, opposites can subtract rather than attract.

    Persuasion finds it’s power in meeting people where they are and then engaging them in such a way that they move with you when you move forward. And there is a phase in a dialogue where you shift gears, or transition, from listening to talking, and it is a fine point for blogging. So I plan to blog about this transitional phase in the future. Just not yet. My interest in the need-style piece that we’re having this dialog about, is to empower and encourage my students and readers to listen well before talking. If you hear what’s needed, you can use that to shape what you have to say.

    That said, based on your description of leaders who are so into blending that they are somehow not themselves…I would expect an inauthentic leader to be unpersuasive. In part, because we expect people in authority to speak with authority. When a ‘leader’ subsumes their identity into the identities of the people around them, they wind up losing themselves and with it, the ability to lead. I think it’s important to blend in communication, but to do so from a place of knowing yourself and your own motives and interests as well. That’s why I say *(and I know I’m not the first person to say this) begin with the end in mind.

    I think that if you’ve done a fine job of listening well, and you then address what you say to take into account what you’ve heard, you can move forward with every expectation that the person you said it to will be more likely to come along with you.

    I find your comments provocative and helpful, so thanks for the interesting conversation!

  7. […] – Part 1  , How To Speak to the Need: Blending with Need Style – Part 2 , How To Speak to the Need: Blending with Need Style – Part 3, and How To Speak to the Need: Blending with Need Style – Part […]

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