Leaders, consultants, coaches, sales and healthcare professionals often use influencing strategies to lead their patients, teammates, prospects and clients to action. But is there fallout from the influencing strategies? Do they lead to resistance? How do the clients and prospects, the teams and patients, experience being influenced? How often do the strategies themselves cause an irreparable relationship fissure? And is it possible to facilitate permanent change without using influencing strategies?

I recently presented my <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/learning-facilitation” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>new training model</a> (an instructional design that generates new neural circuits in a Learner’s brain to store, understand, and retain the new content) at the Learning Ideas Conference where I met dozens of trainers and instructional designers, all kind folks seeking the best approaches to training. When I asked many of them how their Learners were storing and retaining the new skills, they looked at me blankly. Some shrugged, some were troubled that they hadn’t thought of it. None of them had a clue: they only considered the advocate side.

But it’s not just the training model that only considers one side of the equation: Do docs know how patients are hearing them – or if their suggestions collided against the patient’s beliefs? Do coaches know how clients understand their questions and stories? I’ve trained 100,000 sales professionals and not one of them understood how their buyers buy. Do any professionals know, or consider, how their approaches affect the recipients?

We know how to pitch, tell, prove, advise, inform, teach, enlighten, guilt, align as we work at getting our message heard. But what is occurring on the other side? Is our message perceived as intended? And how do we create messages that will not only be accepted, but be respectful to our clients, teammates and patients?

INFLUENC<em>ER</em> VS INFLUENC<em>EE</em>

Many books and programs are dedicated to influencing. But they fail to mention the possible downsides. What happens for the influencEE while we’re influencING? How many clients don’t accurately hear/understand what’s been suggested (a standard problem because brains don’t <a href=”http://didihearyou.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>translate incoming words</a> according to a Speaker’s intended meaning)? Or achieve the opposite results because they convert what they think they’ve heard into reasons to maintain existing habits? Do influencERs know who  hears the new ideas as oppositional and set up an immediate resistance to our input? A resistance to our relationship? How many clients do we lose? How many change projects meet resistance? How many patients maintain their problematic behaviors?

Given the failure rates of many professions (90% failure to retain in training; 95% failure to close in sales; 97% failure to adopt to change in healthcare and change management or any <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/behavior-modification-doesnt-modify-behaviors-an-essay-on-why-it-fails-and-what-to-use” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Behavior Mod</a> activity) there’s obviously a problem not being addressed.

In many instances, influencERs believe they’re working from the influencEEs best intentions. Is it possible influencERs are merely trying to get others to do what they want them to do?

Conventional influencing strategies use psychological principles to produce agreement, using tactics to inspire people to change their behaviors (voting or buying or donating or change) according to the needs of the influencER. Here’s Bob Cialdini (author of <strong><em>Influence: the psychology of persuasion</em></strong>) explaining why generating a ‘relationship’ is a successful influencing strategy:
<p style=”padding-left: 40px;”>“I describe how individuals who <em>can be convinced</em> that a communicator shares a <em>meaningful personal or social identity</em> with them become <em>remarkably more susceptible</em> to the <em>communicator’s persuasive appeals</em>.” (Robert Cialdini, Comment on This Edition of <strong><em>Influence</em></strong>, pg 5) (Italics mine)</p>
Over the years, psychological principles have emerged to garner compliance. Cialdini says there are seven ways to ‘get in’ to someone’s confidence so they’re willing to comply: reciprocation, liking, social proof, authority, scarcity, commitment, consistency, and unity. He says that by doing these things it’s possible to produce ‘a kind of automatic, mindless compliance…a willingness to say yes without thinking first.” (Robert Cialdini, Comment on This Edition of <strong><em>Influence</em></strong>, pg 7)

It’s a science: by using someone’s ‘trigger features’ and ‘action patterns’ to hack into precise places in the influencEEs brain to prompt – say ‘yes’ to – an action, influencERs work at getting someone to submit to their goal: one person (influencER) attempting to cause another (influencEE) to act according to the influencERs needs.

THE OTHER SIDE

Some influencERs believe their attempts to influence decisions are merited because they’re doing ‘good’. Years ago Stephen Covey (author of the renown <strong><em>Seven Habits of Highly Successful People</em></strong>) hired me to train <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/what-is-buying-facilitation-what-sales-problem-does-it-solve” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Buying Facilitation®</a> to the sales folks at his Leadership Center because he recognized it as an <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/sales-as-a-spiritual-practice-3″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>ethical selling model</a>. His folks were the most manipulative group I’d ever trained. When I asked them if they’d be willing to learn to sell by <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/how-why-and-when-buyers-buy-2″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>facilitating buying</a> instead of manipulating, they said, “But why? We’re entitled to manipulate! We’ve got an important model that everyone needs to learn!”

Do influencERs ever wonder what’s going on with influencEEs? Do they know if there’s fallout to the relationship? Or if trust is affected? Is the downside worth it? Sadly, many influencERs overlook what the influencEE may be experiencing as a result of their persuasion tactics:
<ul>
<li>Distrust</li>
<li>Manipulation</li>
<li>Judgment</li>
<li>Reduced self-esteem</li>
<li>Feeling less-than</li>
<li>Powerlessness</li>
<li>Anger, annoyance, disrespect</li>
<li>Loss of agency</li>
<li>Loss of relationship</li>
</ul>
I realize that some professions – sales, marketing – work with strangers and, sadly, feel they’ve got less of a stake in negative outcomes. But some professions, like coaching, leadership, healthcare, have ongoing relationships with their influencEEs that may be irreparably damaged.

I believe there are better ways to serve clients and patients that don’t involve any form of control and are even more successful.

I’ve been <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>developing and training facilitation models</a> that enable Others to generate their own change based on a Servant Leader model that eschews manipulation and influencing strategies.
<p style=”text-align: center;”><a href=”https://mind-brainconnection.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”><img class=”fusionResponsiveImage aligncenter” src=”https://staticapp.icpsc.com/icp/resources/mogile/193273/dfe67cd4e9ce7d9d4d9e657a3fc42f93.jpeg” alt=”” width=”108″ height=”auto” /></a><a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Sample</a></p>
Here are the principles I work from:
<p style=”padding-left: 40px;”>1.    <strong>Everyone has their own answer.</strong> It will not be the same answer you’ve come up with but it might be close enough to make your solution viable for them AND eschew manipulation. By helping them discover how (not why!) they do what they do and finding it incongruent with their beliefs, by leading them to <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/you-cant-change-a-behavior-by-trying-to-change-a-behavior” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>use their own values</a> and mental models to develop their own new choices, they will change, feel good about themselves, trust you as a facilitator for your guidance, and end up changing, adopting, or buying from you – with integrity.</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 40px;”>2.    <strong>Develop trust.</strong> Recognize that your goal may be directly opposed to the Other’s. Spend collaborative time uncovering each other’s goals and negotiating a way forward that is win/win for all.</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 40px;”>3.    <strong>Avoid resistance</strong> entirely by collaborating. Are you both working with the same fact pattern? From the same beliefs and goals? What needs to happen to get on the same page toward a goal agreeable to both? What actions do you both agree need to be taken? Resistance is the output of an influencER pushing an agenda that an influencEE hasn’t agreed with.</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 40px;”>4.    <strong>Encourage self-esteem and agency. </strong>By facilitating Others through to their own ability to make their own changes, you’re encouraging trust and moving your relationship forward toward loyalty over time. Plus providing them with confidence, and acting with Servant-Leader values.</p>
My win/win <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/how-the-mind-brain-connection-generates-change-and-decision-making” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Change Facilitation</a> model uses a <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/facilitative-questions-questions-that-facilitate-change-with-integrity” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>unique form of question</a> and a <a href=”https://sharon-drew.com/the-13-steps-of-change” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>13 step</a> process mirroring how change happens in the brain to facilitate Others – buyers, teams, coaching clients, patients, teenagers – through to permanent change and good results. By leading Others through their own, personal, steps of belief-based change, they can discover problems they want to fix that they might not have otherwise discovered. So the influencER becomes a real leader without manipulating, seeking compliance, or hacking into Another’s patterns to get your own needs met.

I work with teams, sellers, and coaches to enable permanent, integrity-based change. If you’re seeking to facilitate better results while inspiring folks on your team, your practice, to generate their own solutions, I look forward to speaking. <a href=”mailto:sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com</a>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>__________________________</p>
Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor<a href=”https://buyingfacilitation.com/blog/buying-facilitation-new-way-sell-influences-expands-decisions/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> Buying Facilitation®</a>, listening/communication (<a href=”https://didihearyou.com/read” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><em>What? Did you really say what I think I heard?</em></a>), change management (<a href=”https://sharondrewmorgen.com/the-how-of-change/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>The How of Change™</a>), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book <a href=”https://mind-brainconnection.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><strong><em>HOW?</em></strong></a><a href=”https://mind-brainconnection.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><strong><em> Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision making</em></strong></a><strong><em>, </em></strong>the NYTimes Business Bestseller <strong><em>Selling with Integrity</em></strong><em> </em>and<a href=”https://dirtylittlesecretsbook.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”> </a><a href=”https://dirtylittlesecretsbook.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”><em>Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell</em></a>). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. <a href=”https://www.sharon-drew.com/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>www.sharon-drew.com</a> She can be reached at <a href=”mailto:sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com</a>.<span class=”tab”>   </span>

July 15th, 2024

Posted In: Change Management

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Gwendolyn by Sharon-Drew Morgen

I live intimately with wildlife on a floating home on the Columbia River in north Portland, OR. During the summer I never know who will show up: Two spitting geese (geese are not nice animals) once happily sat on my two couches, refusing to move; birds regularly fly in and it takes hours to get them out; Henry (the mouse) eats my kiwis; sea lions play in front of my door; river rats occasionally come in, as do neighborhood cats. An entire family of otters lived under my house last year. And for the last two years, swallows have made a nest in the eaves of the house and leave their poo and sick babies (thrown out of the nest) for me to clean up. It’s like living in a marine zoo.

Now, in early July, I’m waiting for my friend Gwendolyn to show up. She usually appears mid-June, and I fear something has happened to her. Gwendolyn, a duck, has come every year for 8 years to lay 10 eggs in my tall planter, the one with the now-recessed plants that have gotten tamped down low after years of her sitting on them.

Gwendolyn is comfortable with me. When I come onto the deck near her she raises up to make sure it’s me before sinking back down onto the clutch. If a stranger is with me, she flies out to attack them.

Every night at 8:00 pm Gwendolyn’s husband (I don’t know his name) comes to take her to dinner. They’re gone for about an hour, during which time I check on the eggs. One year a racoon ate them all, and a very disturbed Gwendolyn swam back and forth in the water near the planter for days. Sadly, she never got to meet her babies. Thankfully it only happened once.

The real joy comes when Gwendolyn’s babies have hatched, she’s gotten them into the water (how she does this from 18 inches down into the planter is a mystery), taught them how to find food and navigate the river, and proudly brings the 7 remaining ones to show me after they’ve grown up. I watch them with pride. My friend Gwendolyn’s babies, all grown up. I feel like their grandmother.

I hope nothing has happened to her. I’m waiting to see her again.

__________________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision making, the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

July 8th, 2024

Posted In: News

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I recently heard a coach pose a Why? question to help his client notice the negative results she achieved, hoping she’d recognize the need to make other choices going forward. Her response merely defended and denied her actions. Why? was the wrong question to lead her to her internal deliberations.

Aside from universal questions, like ‘Why is the sky blue?’, Why? is a common tool used by curious coaches, managers, healthcare providers and parents seeking an explanation for an undesirable behavior; to discover the root cause of something; to find an opening to offer ‘better’ choices.

Whatever the reason, Why? is posed when someone – an Asker – gets triggered by an outcome (something said or done) that runs counter to their expectations. In other words, biased and subjective, likely not getting to the specific neural circuit that caused the queried action.

Due to the way brains listen and how they store information and trigger choice, Why? merely finds a top of mind response, potentially overlooking the specific criteria-based neural synapse (out of 100+ trillion) that triggered it. I’ll explain the process in as simple terms as I can, starting with my definition of a question.

Note: this essay explains how behaviors get triggered in brains, which I’ve been unpacking for decades. For folks not wanting the detail I offer, just note because of the way brains ‘listen’ and how questions are formulated, Why? questions usually do not get to the specific neural circuits where authentic answers are stored.

TEST THE INTENT OF YOUR QUESTION

question is a group of words chosen, and biased, by an Asker to elicit a response to meet their curiosity, goals and needs.

The problem begins when the Asker assumes Responders will hear/understand/respond to the question as intended (Bad odds). As you’ll see, as per the way brains ‘listen’, there’s a probability the Responder isn’t accurately hearing the intent behind the question. As an Asker do you know:

  • if the answer you get is accurate? Does the Responder know if it’s accurate?
  • if there’s a different, or better, answer that might have been uncovered with a differently worded question?
  • if your choice of words triggered unspoken resistance or unconscious defense?
  • what you’ll do with the answer you get? How will this response help you or the Responder fix the problem?

When you pose a Why? question, are you aware

  1. you’re using your own curiosity, words, intent, challenges, assumptions and goals, ensuring bias in a question that compares an expected outcome against what actually occurred?
  2. you can’t know how the wording in your query biases the Responder’s answer. And you likely have no idea what the Responder heard you say.
  3. the response obtained is automatic, habitual and mechanical, and doesn’t get to the belief-based root of the problem.
  4. you’ve put the Responder into an automatic, out-of-choice perspective (i.e. a Self reference rather than a more neutral Witness/Coach/Observer viewpoint) where they will automatically defend themselves.

Net net, Askers have no idea how a Responder is hearing them, and Responders have no idea if what they think they’ve heard is accurate. And the Responder’s brain will automatically seek out whatever existing circuitry corresponds to what it translated – not necessarily the circuit that prompted the original action.

But there’s one more piece: standard, and Why?, questions miss an opportunity to lead folks to their real answers or helpful insight. You see, behaviors and actions are triggered by neural circuits that have been assembled from different parts of our brain and body. There is a specific circuit that prompts an action, and since it’s physiological and unconscious, it’s difficult to get to.

Hence, finding the ‘right’ answer is a brain problem: both a brain problem and a word problem with the right type of question, the brain will find the original circuit that caused the action, and, where there’s a problem, notice an incongruence and either find an accurate answer or handle change itself.

IT’S OUR BRAIN’S FAULT – THE SCIENCE OF WHAT WE HEAR

The issues that make Why? questions less than useful originate in our neural circuits. Brains neither listen accurately nor store information logically. Your question

  • enters (an ear) as a sound vibration that,
  • after some deletions,
  • gets turned into electrochemical (meaningless) signals
  • that get dispatched to a ‘similar-enough’ neural circuit
  • where the signals undergo more deletions
  • before they’re translated into meaning – what we think we hear.

The odds of a listener accurately understanding the intent behind incoming words (or puffs of air, as Neuroscience calls them) are slim. Indeed, brains, lazy as they are, send incoming words/vibrations/ signals to the ‘closest’ circuits (superhighways), offering relatively superficial responses as translations.

It becomes pernicious: our lives are ruled by the way our existing neural circuits translate incoming data. All that we hear, see, feel, notice, etc. is converted into meaning via our existing circuits.

In other words, our lives are restricted, i.e. biased, by what’s already in there that represents our histories, mental models, and beliefs. We don’t even notice things around us that have no neural circuitry to translate!

So if a Why? question is posed according to some criteria not recognized by the Responder, there’s no way to get an accurate answer. And sadly, neither the Asker or the Responder can notice what’s missing: when our brain tells us X was said, we have no reason to question it, even though Y was intended. For those interested in understanding more of how brains translate information and generate new circuits, read my book HOW?.

Sample

Since there’s no way to know exactly how a Responder has translated the Asker’s words into meaning, there’s a chance a Responder will interpret the Why? query beyond the intent of the question and won’t recognize a disparity. (Note: see my book WHAT? Did you really say what I think I heard?)

Sample

To find an accurate answer to any personal question it’s necessary to discover the neural circuit that holds the underlying criteria that triggered the action. But Why? makes it difficult as it sets up an automatic defense: a standard response often begins with “Because…”

ANOTHER FORM OF QUESTION

Given my lifelong dedication to discovering how to make the unconscious conscious, I spent 10 years developing a question that would reach the specific neural circuit in the brain where the correct answer was stored. My personal query: How could a question be posed that would be devoid of bias and lead a Responder to the specific neural circuit to find their own criteria-based answer? Here are a few of the rules I came up with:

  • A Responder must have maximum access to as much of their unconscious neural set-up as possible. To do this a question must instigate a Witness/Observer/Coach perspective, outside of their automatic, habituated modality to see a broader view with less bias and less attachment to a specific response.
  • The wording of the question must capture criteria from several existing neural circuits.
  • The questions must be posed in specific sequences, following the steps of how brains change and decide.
  • Questions should avoid an Asker’s needs or curiosity, but enable Responders to find the elements within their neural circuitry that triggered their own behaviors.

In other words, I took the personal curiosity out and added in the elements that lead the Responder’s brain to their criteria-based answers.

FACILITATIVE QUESTIONS TO REPLACE ‘WHY?’

Ultimately I invented Facilitative Questions that are worded to prompt Responders into Observer modality, lead them down a specific sequence to specific circuits that hold the underlying beliefs and mental models that triggered their queried actions, then down their steps of discovery. So:

How would you know it were time to reconsider your hairstyle? instead of Why do you wear your hair like that?

Great for coaches to lead clients to permanent change, for sellers to lead prospects through their buying decision journey, for healthcare providers to lead patients through to permanent habit change. No bias.

Since Facilitative Questions take a few weeks to learn to formulate – learning them requires

  • a discovery of several neural circuit,
  • a knowledge of the different elements of the question and what’s within each segment,
  • invoking an Observer mindset/perspective with words,
  • the sequences involved,
  • an understanding of how brains are set up to receive/trigger output.

In other words, just hearing a few of them will not provide the knowledge to formulate them. Here is a link to a learning accelerator I offer: Or my book HOW? includes a 100 page chapter on Facilitative Questions.

Whichever you choose, consider using Why? questions for everyday things, like Why are we having spaghetti again tonight? To enable decision making, change, habit formation, or to fix a problem, Why? is not your best question.

__________________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.    

July 1st, 2024

Posted In: Communication, News

Imagine being in a strange country where you don’t understand the mores – and aren’t aware you don’t understand them. Say, waiting for scrambled eggs to show up for breakfast in Tel Aviv (They eat salad for breakfast), or saying a friendly “Hi” to young indigenous men in the jungles of Ecuador, wondering why they then followed you in a pack (Looking into a man’s eyes means a woman is ready for sex.).

The events can be interpreted by both cultures. But in the case of Aspies, we’re sort of stuck: you NeuroTypicals (NTs) make the rules. And they are crazy.

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS

As an Aspie, my internal rules, my assumptions, my responses, and my perceptions are different from a NTs. I hear metamessages primarily, content secondarily, and I respond according to what the Speaker intended rather than what (biased) ears interpret. I think in systems and experience the world in patterns of entirety, not segments of sequences.

In other words, my world is comprised of wholes, whereas NTs seem to speak in progressions of thoughts, and I have difficulty understanding meaning without the underlying system included. Without a view of the full picture, I end up making assumptions that can be inaccurate. I wonder if NTs make flawed assumptions also, based on the pieces they perceive or omit.

From my vantage point, NTs – largely thinking in a horizontal world that compares everything against a standard norm – make rules that fit a norm I cannot fathom. Yet somehow, with the majority of humans on the NT scale, there’s agreement that those rules make sense. In my mind, they don’t.

Why should I reply “Fine, thanks. How are you?” when someone asks how I am? It’s a real question that should be answered with how I’m faring, right? If they don’t want to know how I am, why did they ask? And how did it get agreed that a meaningless exchange is an authentic greeting? I’ll never understand.

Why am I labeled inappropriate when I respond to something differently than ‘expected’? Who says NTs are the ones who understand accurately? Maybe my references and responses are the correct way of seeing. Maybe my references and responses are a great ‘add’ to a conversation that expands the scope of the subject.

Why am I the one being too direct? Why aren’t NTs more honest?

Why am I the one who’s deemed too intense? Why are NTs so superficial?

I recently watched my 7 year old friend throw a small toy across the room where his four younger sibs played on the floor. Stop throwing that, said Dad, afraid the little ones might get hurt. My friend again threw the toy. Stop, or I’ll take it away, said Dad. Again, the toy went across the room. Give me that. No more toy.

I said to my young friend, “Your dad was afraid the toy might hurt your brothers and sister. What were you hoping to accomplish by throwing that toy?”

“I wanted to understand how it was spinning.”

“So next time, tell Dad what you want to do and he’ll let you go outside to throw it.” Why didn’t Dad get curious? Why was removing the toy without understanding the reasoning the only option?

THINKING IN SYSTEMS LEADS TO MORE CREATIVITY

My Aspie brain perceives a wholly different culture from the world of NTs, with different expectations, referents, assumptions, thinking systems, rules, and interpretations. My systems thinking and different understanding of what’s happening has enabled me to develop new models for conscious choice, different from the long-held biases and assumptions built into conventional business, personal, and healthcare models. Indeed, I have devoted my life to unraveling, (de)coding, and inventing models for, each step of unconscious systems and brain configurations so everyone can make congruent choices.

  • I recognized that the sales model merely places solutions, overlooking the Pre-Sales change /risk management issues involved when anyone seeks to resolve a problem but faces the challenges of the status quo. I invented Buying Facilitation® 35 years ago to enable sellers to lead people through the decisions necessary to fix a problem (13 stages), changing the process from a ‘needs’, solution-placing focus to entering first by seeking would-be buyers early in their decision making and facilitating their change/risk management process. (Note: I realized that selling doesn’t cause buying.) Buying Facilitation® closes 8x more sales in 1/8 the time while using values of Servant Leadership.
  • Because of the way I listen I clearly recognize the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. I developed a road map so people can hear each other without bias and wrote a book on it. Conventional communication specialists continue pushing Active Listening which hears words and overlooks the deletion and distortion problems our brains cause during the listening process.

Sample

  • People make decisions via their unconscious mental models and habitual neural pathways. Yet influencers merely lead Others to where the influencers think they should look, rather than where in their brains Others hold their own answers. To resolve this – a bias/assumption problem coaches, sellers, doctors, parents, etc. face – I developed a new form of question (Facilitative Questions) that facilitates others through to the neural circuits where their own values-based answers are stored.
  • I noticed that people seeking to change behaviors and end habits effecting their health had trouble keeping their changes because real change involves generating wholly new synapses/pathways. I’ve successfully trained many thousands of people to change habits and behaviors permanently via discovering, and consciously managing their unconscious brain circuitry.
  • The training model offers content, assuming that learners will accurately hear, understand, and store the incoming knowledge. Yet the words, information, intent, and goals of the trainer may not match the way a learner’s brain is set up, causing misunderstanding and a lack of retention. I designed Learning Facilitation, an addition to standard training that first generates new circuits to house, retain, and understand the new knowledge.
  • I noticed how change agents, healthcare providers, coaches and leaders posed biased questions to promote change and modify behaviors but ignored the systems involved in neural circuit change and generation. I developed a way to avoid trying to change behaviors by trying to change behaviors and enable Others to change habits and behaviors permanently, directly from their brains. Healthcare providers and OD change folks continue to assume their leadership will cause habit change and wonder why their clients resist!
  • Recognizing that current AI models generate content and doesn’t manage personal issues, I am currently developing a FacilitationAI model to generate sequences of user-prompted Facilitative Questions for folks seeking to solve personal problems based on their own criteria.

Thinking in systems has made my life rich and creative. I have the ability to translate, develop models to scale, and write books on, how brains make decisions and how systemic change occurs. And while I’ve trained my models to sales folks and leaders in global corporations for decades with highly successful results, I continue to be judged negatively against the norms of the NT world. One noted neuroscientist said my thinking, my models are not possible, although he never asked what they’re comprised of. Somehow, ‘different’ goes with ‘aberrant’ or ‘eccentric.’

How, I wonder, does the world change unless the outliers like me instigate radical change? You can’t do that from the middle. And if more NTs were willing to be curious, look through a different lens, it wouldn’t take people like me decades to instill productive ideas.

RIGHT VS WRONG

So that brings me to my question: How do Aspies end up being the ones who are wrong or on the wrong side of normal? I’ve been shunned at invitation-only conferences of author-colleagues (when I was the only one with a New York Times bestseller), ignored at parties, thrown out of events (by very, very famous people), not invited to an event every other person at the table was invited to – and invited in front of me, while I was the one person obviously, meticulously, excluded.

Why? Because my ideas, my speaking patterns, are different? Because they challenge the norm? Why isn’t that exciting? Or fun? Or interesting?

Geesh – I show up in nice clothes, I’ve got a respected professional reputation, I speak well, wrote a bunch of books and train global corporations in my original models. So I guess I’m a bit smart. I don’t harm anyone, have a decent personality, am generous and supportive. I’m even funny.

And yet. And yet, I say ‘wrong’ stuff, and tell unseemly stories when my brain references something that others don’t reference. And instead of going ‘Cool Beans!’ ‘That was interesting!’ Or ‘That was weird, SD. Where did your brain go on that?’ My work gets overlooked, although it can make an important difference in several fields – sales, healthcare, coaching, management, leadership. What rules am I breaking that aren’t worthy of curiosity? Or kind acceptance? Or humor? Or excitement?

I heard a comic once ask why men were the ones in the wrong for leaving the toilet seat up. Why wasn’t the woman wrong for leaving it down? Same toilet seat. Up. Down. What makes one wrong?

The good news about Aspies is that we’re often pretty smart. Because we think in systems and can see all aspects of something (NTs think sequentially and miss whole swathes of real data – the reason Aspies often think NTs are dumb.), we often are the innovators, the visionaries, who notice, invent, code stuff decades before academics or scientists. Yet folks like Tesla, and Cezanne die without their work having relevance. I read that the only painting Cezanne ever sold was to Matisse who wanted to study the painting to learn how Cezanne did what he did. Why didn’t others recognize Cezanne was to be learned from rather than derided? Why is the easiest route the one that ignores, avoids, derides?

I was running programs for internal sales folks at Bethlehem Steel. After a year of working successfully with Dan at their Sparrows Point, MD group, I was being handed over to the Burns Harbor MI group. Dan invited the new manager to lunch to meet me as a hand over. We all spoke for a bit of time, and as I got up to go to the restroom, I heard the Burns Harbor manager say to Dan, “Is she always like this??” to which he replied, “Oh yes! And you’ll learn to love her.”

In these days of more openness and a real desire to accept minorities, to communicate and live without bias, maybe it’s time that Aspies are acknowledged as well. Maybe when NTs hear someone say something that’s a bit off the mark, or rattle on about a topic that’s interesting albeit a bit long winded (We get SO excited by our topics!), maybe they can just say, ‘Hm. Sounds like an Aspie. I wonder what I can learn here. I wonder if I can be curious about something new.’ Then we, too, can have a voice. And just maybe we can become a welcome addition, add our two cents, and maybe make the world a better place because of our differences. Just sayin’.

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Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

June 24th, 2024

Posted In: Communication, News

stick-figure-light-bulbWe live our lives with continuous stimulation – on-demand access to movies, articles, social media, friends, TikTok, books, games and music. With all possible, all the time, how can we hear ourselves think long enough for new and creative ideas to emerge?

I don’t know about you, but my mental commotion from a week of stress causes interminable noise coming from where my ideas should be. And given I’m a thinker, writer and inventor, hearing myself think is fundamental.

I’ve tried freeing up an hour or two during a week to sit quietly in hopes of hearing my creative voice, but that wasn’t sufficient. I needed a broader time span free of the stimulations involved with daily living. And given my schedule, the only time I had available was weekends.

My solution: weekends of boredom.

I now spend at least two weekends a month alone and off-line – off-line, as in no phone, no (on-line) social activity, no computers, and no email. Hence, weekends of doing nothing. A friend said “I would be bored out of my mind!” Precisely.

Do I like being bored? Not particularly. It’s not necessarily fun: sometimes I’m jumping out of my skin and must force myself to not call a friend. But if I can wait it out, I’m on my way to something unimaginable.

HOW I CREATE BOREDOM AND LISTEN TO MYSELF

Here’s my Idea Generating Action Plan for a weekend: during the week before my empty weekend, I stimulate my mind with gobs of fresh ideas (reading voraciously, listening to interviews of interesting people on NPR, watching documentaries). Early on Saturday and Sunday mornings I walk 3 miles to stimulate my physical side; to recruit my spiritual, juicy, non-intellectual side, I listen to classical music and meditate.

This all sets the stage for my process: Saturdays I go through hell. My brain is jumping all around, remembering things I haven’t finished, people I’m annoyed with, clamoring for me to get to the computer. But I can’t! It’s vital that I feel all my frustrations in order to let them go. Otherwise, there’s nowhere for new thinking to emerge. If it gets really bad I either listen to more music or go for another walk.

By Sunday morning I hear silence and am ready to do nothing. To sit quietly and be bored. I sit. And sit. And walk. And listen to music. And sit. And then, on Sunday afternoon, just before I am ready to exterminate myself, the magic happens. The ideas begin to flow.

New ideas. Surprising ideas. Interesting ideas. Stupid ideas. I don’t judge. I just write them all down. This past weekend I began sketching out an Advanced Listening Coaching program (based on my book What?) to help coaches and leaders hear clients without bias, or assumptions. First thing Monday I connected with two coaching schools who may have interest in collaborating. I’m not always this successful. But sometimes I am. Sometimes I plot out a new course, or draft an article, or come up with new ideas for clients. I never know what’s going to show up. But it’s always something I may not have considered without those empty days.

Sample

SPACES FOR IDEAS TO EMERGE

Boredom as a route to creativity is not for everyone. But I think many of us need something extreme to have the space to listen to ourselves, to have a block of time to clear our brain and silence our Internal Dialogue to enable our unique ideas to emerge. Some folks do this by going for a long run, or swim a mile or two. New ideas do emerge for me at the gym, but the inspirational ones – the hidden ones – come only after space and silence appear.

How do you listen to yourself? What are you listening for when you listen? Do you allow the time and space for an opening that enables emerging ideas? Ask yourself these questions, then ask the big one: What would you need to consider to be willing to take the time to hear yourself without barriers and literally brainstorm with yourself?

Try it. At least once – at least when an important meeting is coming up and you want to shine. Spend a weekend alone somewhere in the countryside, with no texting, no email, no telephone, no TV, no people. Nothin’. Then allow yourself to go a bit crazy. The initial silence might be a relief. But by the time you’re jumping out of your skin, you might end up hearing a very creative voice inside. Maybe not. Maybe you will have wasted a weekend and will email me to tell me I’m nuts. But just maybe, you’ll hear yourself come up with the new, new thing. If you do, you can give me an attribution.

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Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

June 17th, 2024

Posted In: Listening

A friend of mine delivers leadership training in police departments. On the first morning he has the partners dance with each other, taking turns for an hour at a time as Leader and Follower. As most of them are men, they start off very uncomfortable when they must be the ‘follower’. But follow they must; he tells them if they can’t follow, they can’t lead.

As Leaders with specific goals we’re responsible for, we operate from the assumption we’re in charge. But what, exactly, are we in charge of? I believe our job as Leaders is to be the sentries, to facilitate our Followers to discover their best outcomes and help them set a path to a successful goal. As they say in Argentine Tango, if you notice the leader, he’s not doing his job.

WHAT IS OUR JOB

Leaders often begin with a plan, an idea, a fantasy if you will, of how to achieve an outcome, and then work at creating and driving the path to execute it. But this strategy faces several problems:

  1. We have no way of knowing beforehand if it could succeed.
  2. By not gathering ideas from everyone, we can’t know if we have the full fact pattern, or if any of the Follower’s ideas would make the outcome even better.
  3. Advocating our own ideas, with our own beliefs and assumptions, we have no way of knowing how our Followers will interpret our plan given their own beliefs, experiences and assumptions.
  4. We run the risk of pushback and resistance when we try to implement with folks who haven’t been included.

Even with an aim to be inclusive, we too often try to persuade Follwers to adopt the path we imagine. This route might yield resistance at best; at worst, it not only restricts the full range of possible outcomes, but runs the risk of causing hostility and sabotage.

LEADING AND FOLLOWING ARE INTERDEPENDENT

During the 2020 election I heard Presidential Candidate and Senator Amy Klobuchar say: “I haven’t gone on TV for interviews much before now. But my team told me I needed the exposure. So here I am.” Obviously, she’s the Leader AND the Follower.

When Leaders rely on their own assumptions, ideas, and expertise, it’s difficult to achieve an optimal result: until Followers are included and develop their own vision, using their ideas, knowledge, values and voices; until the group discovers a path through their own group dynamics; until the group works collaboratively to develop creative outcomes that they can all buy into, the outcome will be restricted.

So here’s the question: do you want to facilitate a route through to the best result? Or drive the path to the result you’ve imagined? You can’t do both.

  • What would you need to believe differently to trust you can achieve the best outcome if it’s driven by the Followers?
  • What is a Leader’s role if the Followers are in charge of the route to a successful outcome?

I believe that leading and following are two sides of the same coin. And I believe it must be an interdependent process.

CONTROL

I once trained a group of executive Leaders at a company with a reputation of having values. They were the most manipulative group I’ve ever trained. Getting them to consider any form of leadership that didn’t involve them having total control was a herculean task. Seeing my frustration one of them said: “But our message is values-based. Of COURSE it’s our job to convince them to do it our way! It’s the RIGHT way.” Having a great outcome does not give license to push our agendas to get it done OUR way.

As Leaders, we must give up our egos, our needs for control, our perceived value of being ‘right’, of being The One to exert power and influence. We obviously need to have some sort of control given we’ve got a job to do. But control over what?

There are two components to our job: 1. formulating a goal, and 2. getting there. We cannot do it alone: success cannot be achieved without the good will, the buy-in, and passionate involvement of the Followers.

To work collaboratively with Followers to formulate a goal, help define their process of getting there, then oversee the journey, a Leader

  • controls the space that enables all voices to be heard, giving rise to a complete data set, creativity, buy-in, collaboration, and mutual responsibility for planning and delivery;
  • leads the group through forming, failure, discovery and confusion, trials and success;
  • guides the group through the route they designed and helps them maintain equilibrium.

Here I’m reminded of another great Argentine Tango expression: The Leader opens the door; the Follower dances through using her own unique steps; the leader follows.

STRUCTURE VS CONTENT; CONTEXT VS COMPONENTS

I contend that as Leaders we must assure results, but hand over the creation of the journey – the behavior changes, the activity, the buy-in, the creation of new rules and norms – to the Followers.

Let’s look at the two components, the goal and the route, from a systems perspective.

If leading a team through an initiative to enhance customer service, for example, the Leader is responsible for ending up with happier customers and supervising the journey to get there, while the Followers are responsible for

  • the route taken to get there,
  • the choice of the components of the new services,
  • what these services will do, the planning during the change and ultimate buy-in, and the rules that will maintain them,
  • ensuring buy-in and collaboration from the team,
  • what each team member will do,
  • how it will be delivered.

Unfortunately, leaders too often try to control both the goal and the journey. But I suggest we separate the functions. Our job is to maintain the rules, criteria, tone and vision; the job of the Followers is to make it happen.

When Followers control the journey they create a collaboration amongst themselves, develop behaviors and outcomes, and take ownership of the journey to success. The Leader then maintains the space the Followers created.

STARTING UP A COMPANY AS A LEADER/FOLLOWER

I’d like to share a story of my own journey as an entrepreneur of a tech start up in London in 1983. I began with no knowledge of business and even less of technology (Those were early days, remember?). I was smart enough to know my range of content knowledge – nil. So I wrote an outline of what I wanted to achieve:

  • a company that would take great care of the needs of customers in the area of 4th Generation Languages (Really early days!) with integrity, honesty, and win/win values;
  • be seen as a premier provider by charging high prices and great service expertise;
  • hire folks who will create out-of-the-box services that enhance what’s considered possible.
  • have staff be as happy and cared for as clients;
  • make money and have fun.

That was my goal. I had no idea what data I needed or what the journey would be. I did my best to research, speak with people, read a few books. Then I realized that it would be best if I hired good people who designed their own jobs.

My hiring process included asking applicants to bring in a P&L that included their salary and their vision of how they’d do the job. I hired those with the most creative ideas, and we ended up providing very unique and customer-driven programming, training, and consulting services, making us the most innovative company in our market.

The applicant for the job of receptionist was quite creative. Ann Marie wanted a small salary and a percentage of the gross income. For this, she would make sure the company ran efficiently and staff and clients would be thoroughly taken care of to the point they wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. Wow. I hired her. And she did exactly what she said.

She made us write these daily TOADs – I don’t remember what the acronym stood for…something like Take what you want And Destroy the rest… but it took us an extra hour each night to write them up (No computers in daily use in the early 80s, remember?). Each morning we had to read the full set of everyone’s TOADS on our desks when we arrived. They involved current initiatives, our frustrations, any good/bad issues with clients and prospects, any good/bad issues we had with each other.

As a result, all of us knew ‘everything’. If a phone would ring and the person wasn’t there to answer, anyone could answer it and be able to help. As the receptionist, Ann Marie would make every caller feel cared for and comfortable. Office squabbles and gossip didn’t have a way to fester. Team members became familiar with problems faced by colleagues and came up with creative solutions. We had the knowledge to introduce clients to each other for follow-on partnerships.

Frankly, Ann Marie terrified me. Tall, officious, unsmiling, we all did what she told us to do (Talk about leaders!). And she walked away with pockets full of money as she helped the business double each year.

I hired John as a ‘Make Nice Guy’ to bridge the divide between technical and people skills. He wanted a $100,000 salary (in 1985!) to make sure techies, their code, and how our contractors maintained relationships with the teams they worked with, all ran smoothly. That was a no brainer. And another role I hadn’t known I needed to hire for.

With John taking care of all outside stuff, I had no fires, no problems, no crashes, no personality issues, no client problems, and I could grow my business. He even found out when a client was buying new software that we could support well before it arrived on site; when the vendor came to install it, my folks were there waiting, well before the vendor tried to sell their services.

The team worked hard to get me to say “We’re doing WHAT??” I was once walking down the hall and ran into my Training Manager. When I asked where he’d been hiding since I hadn’t seen him in days, he told me he was busy scouting out extra office space for the new training programs being developed. “We’re doing WHAT??”

And fill the seats he did, bringing in new clients and new programs. Including me as a trainer. Apparently, the team believed I supervised techies so well as a non-techie that I should teach other non-techie managers how to supervise their techie staff. I would never have thought of that myself. So they got me to run monthly programs which were always packed.

As part of my commitment to creativity and growth, I told the management team to take risks but to let me know if a disaster was imminent at least three feet before they fell off the edge (If they waited until they were already off the cliff there wouldn’t be a thing I could do but wave). And they did. As a result they took risks, created out-of-the-box programs, processes, and initiatives that I could never have dreamed of. And they mostly got it right.

By setting a tone of authenticity, I regularly discussed my failures and got input from the team as to how to make things better. This obviously opened the door for us all to discuss failures as part of our job. Also by maintaining control of the values and integrity of communication and relationships, by trusting the staff and enabling them to be Leaders and innovators, I was able to double the company income every year.

As a start-up in a new field, with no computers, no internet, no email, no websites, we had a $5,000,000 revenue (and 42% net profit) within four years. Everyone made money, loved coming to work, and grew individually. We controlled 11% of the market (the other 26 competitors shared the other 89%), had loads of fun, and we changed the landscape of what was possible.

TRUST

I could never, ever have been that successful if I hadn’t trusted my Followers to create their jobs in a way that met my values. I controlled the goal. They controlled the journey. Win/win. Interdependent. Trust. Respect. Their joke was that they were the ones with the brains, and I was the one with the mouth. Cool beans. I opened the door, they danced through it, and I followed.

Leadership is an interdependent process with Followers and Leaders working together from the inside and outside simultaneously to inspire trust and reach the best possible outcome. Here are the givens:

  • The process is always transforming and dynamic, rendering pockets of success, confusion and failure, creativity;
  • There’s no way to know until the end what the trip will include so it’s necessary to build in trust, collaboration, and openness;
  • The result will be what everyone wants. The process of getting there will be different from what the Leader envisaged;
  • The process will proceed according to the values, creativity, and needs of the Followers;
  • The Leader will be respected so long as s/he uses her/his power to shepherd the process;
  • Failure is part of the process and can be used to inspire creativity;
  • Resistance will be visible early and managed by group with no fallout;
  • The result will be the best amalgam of everyone involved bringing their values and hearts.

A real Leader enables their Followers to operate interdependently, using their own values, their own creativity, their own vision. As Leaders we must stop trying to exert influence over the entire process and begin trusting Followers to lead us.

THE HOW

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you know that I always include a ‘how’ so readers can use the ideas I espouse. In this case, my suggestions will be a bit challenging: the necessary skills to implement this style of leadership includes rethinking and enhancing two skills we all believe we’re good at and take great pride in – our listening and our questioning.

The reality is that no matter how professional, how fair, how honorable, how impartial we believe ourselves to be, when we use our conventional questioning and listening skills there’s a high probability we’ll be (unconsciously, unwittingly, automatically) biased by our words, ideas, needs, beliefs, and history.

I’ve developed ways to listen and question that avert bias and indeed facilitate transformation and expanded possibility. I train these skills to leaders when I train in an organization.

As Leaders, our job is to facilitate a collaboration with our Followers to interdependently create a successful goal. It demands that Leaders enter with a different outcome, a different mindset, and a different tool kit. But it’s worth it. We’ll end up with the real power of spearheading harmony, integrity, creativity, and excellence. And have a greater success than we ever could have achieved alone.

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Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

June 10th, 2024

Posted In: News

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how hard ‘change’ is. Take heart! Change only seems hard because of the way we’re going about it. I’ve been developing systemic brain change models for decades and I’d like to offer my two cents to explain the reasons there’s so much unnecessary failure.

You see, for permanent change to occur (new habits, behaviors, decisions, change management initiatives) the brain must have new circuitry. Too often, current change management/ behavior change models focus on behavior change and omit making alterations to the brain circuits. But this fails: trying to change without generating the new brain circuitry to prompt it is like expecting your bike to ride itself without you peddling, then blaming the bike.

CHANGE MUST COME FROM THE BRAIN

Because all actions (thoughts, behaviors, opinions, habits) are a result – an output – of instructions received from the brain, without modified instructions we continue doing the same thing and getting the same results. Unfortunately, using discipline or rational reasons to change don’t prompt new circuit configurations. Let me explain.

Behaviors are merely responses – the outward manifestation, or outputs – to signals sent from brain circuits. Speaking physiologically, there’s no way to change a behavior by merely trying to change a behavior: to get a different output, new behavior or choice, it’s necessary to go directly to the source (the brain) and make the changes in the circuits themselves or create new ones.

Current change models try to fix the symptom and ignore modifying the initiation point they emanate from.

My book HOW? details the mind-brain connection and how to construct the specific circuitry to generate the choice we desire.

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In this article I’ll simply explain how our brains cause change, and why your attempts at permanent change aren’t more consistent.

CHANGE ISN’T HARD

Sadly, change gets a bad rap. Perceived wisdom believes that ‘change is hard’ and ‘no one likes change’ because of the resistance that results when behavior-based models are used. When approached from the brain, not so much.

We’re a culture dominated by the mind. Information. Data. Content. Stories. Facts. Our minds certainly need data to think with, to learn from and weight decisions with. But it becomes a problem when we want to make a change. You see, information – the mind – doesn’t cause change. Brains do.

We begin with a flawed assumption: we assume we can effect change because we desire it or work at it or provide ‘rational’ reasons for it. But when we neglect to involve the brain we fail: change is a brain thing; information is a mind thing. Changing the brain is the precursor to changing the mind.

The problem is our brain’s laziness. Because of the way our brains process data we end up with either short-lived change, no change, or resistance.

CHANGE IS A BRAIN THING

Instructing outputs is what brains do: there is nothing we see, hear, do, think or feel that hasn’t been instructed from our brains. We rely on our brains for everything – thoughts, understanding from books, behaviors and activities, colors, what we hear (sounds and words).

We forget this when seeking change. Using conventional change models – Behavior Modification, Cognitive Behavior Change – try to change with mind-based mastery like discipline, regulation, rational thinking, habit creation, practice, and training.

But without a new home, without new circuits to house new instructions, the mind has no way of carrying out our wishes. Attempts to change behaviors without reprogramming the brain will likely fail, regardless of dedication or will. The numbers concur: Organizational Development fails 97% of the time. Training fails to retain the new knowledge 90% of the time. Diets and smoking cessation fail 97% of the time. Sales fails 95% of the time. Even in our own lives: With all the discipline in the world, we have difficulty making behavior changes permanent. Keep weight off? Get organized? Hard to do. Why?

All behaviors, decisions, habits and choices are outputs, end products, generated from instructions sent from specific, historic circuit configurations in our brains.

WHAT IS A BEHAVIOR?

Since so much of what we want to change is behavioral, let’s look at what a behavior is.

behavior, or any sort of action, thought or choice, is an output arising from a string of brain processes. My Morgenism is ‘A behavior is a Belief in action.’

Simply, the mind sends our brain a signal to ‘do something’ (an input) and the brain complies by sending the signals to a ‘similar-enough’ set of existing circuits that translate the request into instructions for some sort of output.

These signals are mechanical, electro-chemical, and automatic. No meaning or intent involved. Meaning and intent are mind things. Brains, comprised of 86 billion neurons and trillions of neural connections and synapses, are unconscious and just do what they’re told via signals; they don’t judge good/bad, right/wrong.

Here’s a simplified explanation of the string of events:

  • All incoming words, directions, ideas, promises, etc.
  • enter our brains as puffs of air (inputs without meaning!) and
  • get transformed into electro-chemical signals that
  • eventually get automatically dispatched to ‘similar-enough’ (historic, existing) circuits
  • for translation into action (outputs, such as new behaviors, decisions, ideas)
  • via our mind.

Again, there is no meaning, no intent, no thinking involved. Mechanical. Electro-chemical. Automatic. Take a look:

All this occurs in five one-hundreths of a second. So: behaviors are outputswithout inputs, no outputs can exist. Behaviors are a result, an end product of inputs and cannot be modified as such.

HOW WE GET RESISTANCE

All outputs that emerge are specific to an existing circuit: the brain will always produce the same output when the same directives and thoughts are input. So a machine programmed (input) to make a chair will produce (output) the same chair each time. To make a table you must reprogram the machine.

Given there are billions of bits of data coming into our brains every second our mind ignores, overlooks, forgets, most of it. When we request an action that differs from the circuit that receives it, or make new requests that don’t have a circuit, we get resistance. It’s why we fail when we try to do something different. Without changing the input we’re trying to turn the chair into a table.

When our brains are asked to do something that they have no circuits to interpret we resist or fail or misunderstand: incoming instructions get lost in translation, misinterpretation, or assumption.

This is what happens when we decide to go on another diet for example: our brain references the existing DIET superhighway and we get the same results we got previously. Hence the 97% failure rate. We can force the behavior part for a while, and possibly even lose the weight, but we don’t have the circuits to maintain it.

WHY CHANGE ATTEMPTS FAIL

For any action, any change, any new behavior, habit or choice, we need both the mind and the brain: The mind directs requests to, and carries out instructions from, the brain but doesn’t instigate the activity itself. Think of it like a car’s engine: you turn the car on (i.e. the mind) and it moves (the mind) but needs the engine (i.e. the brain) to make it work.

And herein lie the problem. Because our behaviors emerge from established circuits (called Superhighways) that have been created and sustained during our lifetime, we keep doing what we’ve always done regardless of any differences we desire: it’s how our circuitry is programmed. Obviously we’re limited to choices that embrace our unique histories and mental models and… here is the annoying part… maintains the status quo.

It rules our lives: We live around people of similar political beliefs; our friends share ideas and lifestyles similar to ours; what we read, the TV news we watch, where we take vacations, are largely similar to those in our sphere. Even our curiosity is restricted accordingly. Sadly, we either don’t notice unfamiliar content or have problems accepting ideas foreign to us.

But, in general, this works well for us and keeps us comfortable – until we want to do something ‘different’, or try to change/create a habit, or when we’re involved in a change management process in our companies that requires new activities.

THERE IS NO REALITY

And that brings up another item that causes us to fail: we seem to think there is something called ‘rational’ and we try to do ‘what’s right’. But there is no reality. Basically, our brains – yes, back to the culprit – make up our reality from the lives we’ve lived. As David Eagleman says in The Brain,

“..our picture of the external world isn’t necessarily an accurate representation. Our perception of reality has less to do with what’s happening out there, and more to do with what’s happening inside our brain.” [pg 40]

“Each of us has our own narrative and we have no reason not to believe it. Our brains are built on electrochemical signals that we interpret as our lives and experience… there’s no single version of reality. Each brain carries its own truth via billions of signals triggering chemical pulses and trillions of connections between neurons. [pg 73-74] [bold mine]

Indeed, everything we think, hear, decide, and choose is an output, an interpretation made by, and directed from our brains. We’re not in control.

So one last reminder: Since all activity is an output from directions our brains give our mind, you can’t change a behavior (mind) by trying to change a behavior (mind) as there are no accompanying brain circuits to generate new directives for new outputs.

Got it?

_____________________________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

June 3rd, 2024

Posted In: Change Management

Super QuestionAlexa, Siri, Google, AI, and all programs that answer questions have mechanisms that determine the answers. If you’re like me, you largely assume they’re accurate, without knowing the reference material or checking further.

This sort of assumption is a normal reaction: in our daily lives we regularly pose questions to friends, colleagues, and clients about stuff we’re curious about, and receive responses we don’t check for accuracy or congruence.

But what is it, precisely, we’re assuming? I’d like to take a few moments and delve into the larger idea here: Have you ever wondered what a question actually is?

Conventionally, questions are posed to elicit a response, to gather data from a Responder, like “How many children do you have?” or “Why are you doing that?” Parents and spouses sometimes use questions to point out insufficiencies or annoyances, as in “Didn’t you notice the dishes haven’t been done?”

Sometimes we use them rhetorically to demand fairness in the world, like in “Why is this happening to me??” Sometimes questions are posed to elicit a specific response so the Asker can cause the Responder to admit something, like “Don’t you think there are better ways to do that?” Sometimes questions are deemed ‘closed’, like in, “What time is dinner?” Sometimes they’re ‘open’, like in, “What do you want to eat?”

But there is a unifying feature to all standard questions: they’re biased by the needs, words, and goals of the Asker. More specifically, questions:

  • are posed according to the curiosity, goals, assumptions, and intent of the Asker;
  • use words that limit responses to narrow interpretation;
  • get interpreted uniquely, according to a Responder’s historic, unconscious, world views and mental models;
  • potentially ignore more important and accurate information.

Of course, most of the time, conventional questions work just fine. How else could we find out how many acres there are at Machu Picchu, or which movie our spouse wants to see?

But I believe we are underutilizing questions. I believe it’s possible for questions to serve a higher purpose – to collect accurate data, of course, but also to help others discover their own answers and path to decision making and change.

What if it were possible to use questions to actually lead people through their unconscious discovery process to uncover their own best answers – without any bias from the Asker?

WHAT QUESTIONS DO

There’s a reason questions don’t necessarily unearth accurate data. Using words uniquely chosen to represent the needs and curiosity – the bias – of the Asker, standard questions extract only a portion of the available responses stored unconsciously in a Responder’s brain. Indeed, standard questions can end up being misunderstood or interpreted badly. There are several reasons for this.

      1. Information: because information is elicited as per the requirements of the Asker, a Responder’s real answers may not be captured. The wording, the request, the topic, the intent, the underlying assumptions, and/or the vocabulary may unwittingly offend, confuse, or annoy causing partial or inaccurate responses.
      2. Listening: words and meaning are merely our brain’s interpretations of sound waves that enter our ears through our historic neural pathways, guaranteeing we assign meaning according to our unconscious biases and history. Obviously, we might miss the intent of the question entirely. I wrote an entire book on this (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?). Given these natural biases, it’s likely that what we think we’ve heard is some degree different from the Asker’s intent.

          Sample

3. Biased question formulation: Askers use words meant to elicit good data for a specific goal and outcome, but may not obtain the best, accurate, or truthful, responses. Sadly, it’s possible that higher quality answers could have been retrieved with a different wording or intent.

4. Restriction: questions restrict answers to the boundaries of the question. We cannot uncover data we never asked for, even if it’s available. We cannot elicit accurate data if the question is heard differently than intended.

Are you getting the point here? Questions have so many in-built biases, get translated as so mysteriously within a Responder’s brain, that it’s a miracle people communicate at all.

This is especially disturbing in coaching, healthcare, and leadership situations. Well-meaning professionals believe the ‘right’ question will uncover a truth from a Responder. Every coach and leader I’ve met deeply believes in their own knack – ‘intuition’ – for posing the ‘right’ question because they have a history of similar situations.

Yet we all have examples where these assumptions have proven false. Sometimes the Influencer doesn’t trust the Other to have the ‘right’ opinions or ideas; sometimes they pose questions that elicit incorrect data, or worded in a way that unwittingly creates resistance.

Sadly, when Responders share answers that prove unhelpful or inaccurate, Influencers blame them for being non-compliant. And worse, patients end up keeping bad habits, clients end up not making needed changes, buyers end up not getting what they need.

A NEW FORM OF QUESTION

As someone who has thought deeply, and written, about the physiology of change and the neurology of decision making for decades, I began pondering this conundrum in the 1980s. I wondered if questions could be posed with no bias, no ego, no personal needs for a particular solution – only the trust that Others had their own answers and merely had to discover them inside themselves.

What if healthcare professionals asked questions that triggered patients to positive, immediate habit change, or coaches knew the exact questions that enabled new habit formation and behavior generation? What if scientists and consultants could elicit the most accurate information? And imagine if it were possible for questions to help sellers and advertisers actually inspire action to generate Buyer Readiness.

What if a question could be worded in a specific way to act as a GPS to lead a Responder through a sequence in their brain to make it possible to discover the full set of criteria to make a decision from and a permanent change without resistance?

FACILITATIVE QUESTIONS

I’ve invented a new form of question that addresses the above problems. But before I introduce it I’d like you to consider your own willingness to do go beyond your habitual questioning patterns: What would you need to know or believe differently to be willing to add a new skill to your toolkit? Because the hardest bit is to change the mindset of the questioner.

To achieve more consistent, helpful, and permanent results, Askers must begin by changing their criteria from having answers to being facilitators and trust that the Other has their own answers and not assume they possessed the solutions.

I actually thought about this for 10 years as I tried to figure out how words could uncover exactly where in the brain answers reside. I eventually came up with a new form of question I labeled a Facilitative Question. With a goal of helping Others consciously enter their unconscious brains, they use

      • specific words, in a specific order to go to the most appropriate memory channel to enable discovery without resistance;
      • no bias from an Asker’s curiosity or need;
      • a very specific route to specific memory storage circuits that avoid sparking defense or resistance.

Facilitative Questions (FQs) help Responders uncover their own criteria, beliefs, and mental models to find their own unique answers within their existing neural circuitry – great for permanent behavior change and decision making. With these questions, prospective buyers can be led through change and buying stagescoaching clients can discover their own path to resistance-free change; doctors can elicit behavior change in patients rather than push to try to cause change; and advertisers can trigger interactive responses to normally one-sided push messages.

Conventional questions keep Responders in a very small, idiosyncratic, and personal response range. And while the Asker is most likely attempting to elicit a response, they are out of control. FQs actually define the parameters and give Askers real control.

USES

Here’s a few industries that could benefit from FQs.

      1. Healthcare: Intake forms that create an interactive doc/patient experience from the start: What would you need to see from us to know we’re on your team and ready to serve you? [This FQ automatically creates a WE space between patient and provider.] Doctors could lead people to how they’d create new habits for health: What has stopped you from being able to exercise regularly until now? What would you need to know or believe differently to be able to add regular walking to your weekly schedule?
      2. Advertising, for an ad for a Porsche, for example: How would you know when it was time to buy yourself a luxury car? [This FQ makes the ad interactive and gives a reader time to reflect on personal change.]
      3. SalesWhat has stopped you until now from resolving your issue using your own resources? [This FQ enables potential buyers to look at how they’ve gone about solving a problem on their own – necessary before realizing they can’t fix the problem themselves and might need to buy something.]
      4. CoachingWhat would you need to see or believe differently to be willing to consider new choices in the places where your habitual choices are more limited? [This FQ gives clients an observer viewpoint, thus circumventing blame, to notice old habits/patterns, and limits viewing to the exact historic behaviors that may not be effective.]

These can be used in advertising and marketing campaigns; healthcare apps that sit on top of Behavior Mod apps and facilitate new habit formation; AI where apps or robots need to understand the route to change and decision making. I’ve been teaching it in sales with my Buying Facilitation® model for 40 years and companies such as DuPont teach how to use them with farmers; Senior Partners at KPMG use it with client consulting; Safelight Auto Glass uses it to compete against other distributors; and Kaiser Permanente uses it to engage seniors needed supplemental insurance, to name a few.

If anyone would like to learn the HOW of formulating Facilitative Questions, I developed a primer in a FQ learning accelerator. Or we can work together to develop or test a new initiative. Given how broadly my own clients have used these questions, I’m eager to work with folks who seek to truly serve their client base.

By enabling Others to discover their own unconscious path we not only help them find their own best answers but act as Servant Leaders to decision making.

      • What would you need to know or believe differently to be willing to add a new questioning technique to your already superb questioning skills?
      • How would you know that adding a new skill set would be worth the time/effort/cost to make you – and your clients – even more successful?

Should you wish to add the ability to use questions as a way to truly serve others, let me know.

______________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

May 27th, 2024

Posted In: Communication

listening-3Do you enter conversations to listen for what will confirm your assumptions? Do you assume the responses to your questions provide an accurate representation of the full fact pattern from which to base follow-on questions? Do you assume your history of similar topics topics gives you a more elevated understanding of what your Communication Partners (CPs) mean?

If any of the above are true, you’re biasing your conversation. By entering conversations with assumptions and personal goals, and listening through your historic, unconscious filters, you unwittingly direct conversations to what you expect to hear and may miss a more optimal outcome. But it’s not your fault.

OUR BRAINS BIAS WHAT WE HEAR

The most surprising takeaway from my year of research for my book (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?) on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard was learning how little of what we think we hear is unbiased, or even accurate. Indeed, it’s pretty rare for us to hear precisely what another intends us to hear: our brains don’t allow us to.

Sample

Our brains listen through our existing neural circuitry, reducing our ability to accurately translate what’s been said to what we already know, leaving us unaware there might be a misunderstanding regardless of how carefully we listen.

Here’s a simplified explanation of how brains listen. Sound actually enters our ears as meaningless sound vibrations which become electrochemical signals that are dispatched to a similar-enough synapse. Unfortunately, whatever doesn’t match exactly gets deleted. We’re left assuming that what we think we’ve ‘heard’ is accurate even though there’s a good chance it’s not.

So your CP might say ABC and your brain tells you they said ABL without even mentioning it omitted D, E, F, etc. I once lost a business partner because he ‘heard’ me say X when three of us confirmed I said Y. “I was right here! Why are you all lying to me! I KNOW she said that!” And he walked out in a self-generated rage. This makes it tough for any communication where mutual understanding is so important.

Indeed, as outsiders – as sellers, leaders, or influencers of any kind – with different beliefs/values, backgrounds, etc., and entering conversations with our own goals and unconscious biases, we end up unintentionally misunderstanding, mistranslating, or mishearing, but believe what we think we’ve heard is true. In other words, our natural inability to hear accurately causes us miscommunication and flawed understanding. Not to mention lost business and lost relationships.

Net net, we unwittingly base our conversation, questions, and intuitive responses on an assumption of what we think has been said, and succeed only with those whose biases match our own. [Note: for those who want to manage this problem, I’ve developed a work-around in Chapter 6 of What?)

ENTERING CONVERSATIONS WITHOUT BIAS

I want to go back to the problems incurred by entering conversations with personal biases:

  1. by biasing the framework of the conversation to the goals we wish to achieve, we overlook alternative, congruent outcomes. Sellers, coaches, leaders, and managers often enter conversations with personal expectations and goals rather than collaboratively setting a viable frame and together discovering possibility.
  2. by listening only for what we’re (consciously or unconsciously) focused on hearing, we overlook a broader range of possible outcomes. Sellers, negotiators, leaders, help desk professionals, and coaches often miss real opportunities to promote agreement and discovery.

Here are some ideas to help you create conversations that avoid restriction:

  1. As an influencer, shift your goal from information gathering (for you) to facilitating the route to change (for them).
  2. Enter each conversation with a willingness to serve the greater good within the bounds of what you have to offer, rather than meet a specific outcome. Any expectations or goals limit outcomes.
  3. Enter with a blank brain, as a neutral navigator, servant leader, change facilitator.
  4. Trust that your CP has her own answers. Your job is to help her find them, as they are often unconscious. This is particularly hard for influencers who believe they have ‘the answers’. (And yes, all influencers, sellers, leaders, negotiators, and coaches are guilty of this.) I’ve written an article to specifically address this.
  5. Your biased questions will only extract biased answers. Use questions that make their journey to discovery more efficient, like “What has stopped you from making the change before now?”. [Note: I’ve developed Facilitative Questions that lead folks through their unconscious thinking patterns.]
  6. Enable Others to discover their own route to Excellence rather than attempt to influence a specific behavior you might deem important.
  7. Get rid of your ego, your need to be right or smart or have the answers. Until your CP finds a way to recognize their own unconscious issues, and design congruent change that matches their idiosyncratic ‘givens’, you aren’t helpful regardless of how much you know.

By listening with an ear that hears avenues to serve, to understand what’s been said without unconscious bias, you can truly serve your Communication Partner.

____________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com. 

May 20th, 2024

Posted In: Listening

With untold millions of sales professionals in the world, sellers play a role in any economy. As the intermediary between clients and providers, sales can be a spiritual practice, with sellers becoming true facilitators and Servant Leaders (and close more sales).

The current sales model, directed at placing solutions and seeking folks with ‘need’,  closes 5% – only those ready to buy at point of contact. Sadly, this ignores the possibility of facilitating and serving the 80% of folks on route to becoming buyers and not yet ready.

Until people have tried, and failed, to fix their problem themselves, understood and managed the risk and disruption that a new solution might cause their environment,  they aren’t buyers. It’s only when they:

  • know how to manage the risk of bringing in something new,
  • can’t fix the problem themselves,
  • get buy-in from whomever will touch the final solution,
  • understand that the cost of bringing in something new is lower than the cost of maintaining the status quo,

will they self-identify as buyers and be ready to buy.

Indeed: buying is a risk/change management problem before it’s a solution choice issue, regardless of the need or the efficacy of the solution. All potential buyers must go through this process anyway – and the sales model doesn’t help.

WHY PEOPLE BUY

People don’t want to buy anything; they merely seek to resolve a problem at the least ‘cost’ (risk) to their system. Even if folks eventually need a seller’s solution, until they understand how to manage the change a new solution would generate, they won’t heed our outreach, regardless of their need or the efficacy of the solution. As a result, sellers with worthwhile solutions end up wasting a helluva lot of time being ignored and rejected.

Selling doesn’t cause buyingSales focuses on only the final steps of a buying decision and overlooks the high percentage of would-be prospects who WILL become buyers once they’ve addressed their possible risk issues. After all, until they’ve recognized that the risk of the new is less than the risk of staying the same they won’t do anything different.

It’s not the solution being sold that’s the problem, it’s the process of pushing solutions before first helping those who will become buyers facilitate their necessary change process. Instead of a transactional process, sales can be an expansive, collaborative experience between seller and buyer.

Sample

As a result, sellers end up seeking and closing only those ready to buy at the point of contact – unwittingly ignoring others who aren’t ready yet, may need our solutions, and just need to get their ducks in a row before they’re prepared to make a decision.

Imagine having a product-needs discussion about moving an iceberg and discussing only the tip. That’s sales; it doesn’t facilitate the entire range of hidden, unique change issues buyers must consider – having nothing to do with solutions – before they could buy anything. Failure is built in.

But when sellers redirect their focus from seeking folks with ‘need’ to those considering change and lead them through their change management process before selling, they can facilitate them through the issues they must resolve (politics, relationships, resource, budget, time), help them assemble the right stakeholders from the start, and help them figure out how to address the disruption of bringing in a new solution. Then sellers become true servant leaders, inspire trust, and close more sales.

WHY SALES FAILS

Seller’s restricted focus on placing solutions, and listening for needs (which cannot be fully known until the change management process is complete) all but insures a one-sided communication based on the needs of the seller:

  1. Prospecting/cold calling – sellers pose biased questions as an excuse to offer solution details omitting those who will buy – real buyers! – once they’re ready. Wholly seller-centric.
  2. Content marketing – driven by the seller to push the ‘right’ data but really only a push into the unknown and a hope for action. Wholly seller-centric.
  3. Deals, cold-call pushes, negotiation, objection-handling, closing techniques, getting to ‘the’ decision maker, price-reductions – all assuming buyers would buy if they understood their need/the solution/their problem, all overlooking the real connection and service capability of addressing the person’s most pressing change issues. Wholly seller-centric.

To become a spiritual practice, sellers must use their expertise to become true facilitators that become necessary components in all buying decisions. Indeed, the job of ‘sales’ as merely a solution-placement vehicle is short-sighted.

  • Buyers can find products online. They don’t need sellers to understand the features and benefits.
  • Choosing a solution isn’t the problem. It’s the time it takes to manage the risk. – it’s the buyer’s behind-the-scenes timing, buy-in from those who will touch the solution, and change management process that gums up the works.
  • The lion’s share of the buying decision (9 out of a 13 step decision path) involves buyers traversing internal change with no thoughts of buying. They don’t even self-identify as buyers until they understand their risk of change.

Since the 1980s, I’ve been an author, seller, trainer, consultant, and sales coach of the Buying Facilitation® model. And though I’ve trained 100,000 sales professionals, and wrote the NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, sales continues to be solution-placement driven. By ignoring a large population of potential buyers who merely aren’t ready, sales unwittingly ignores the real problem: it’s in the buying, not the selling.

SERVE PROSPECTS, CLOSE MORE SALES

It’s possible to truly serve clients AND close more sales.

Aspiring to a win-win

Win-win means both sides get what they need. Sellers believe that placing product that resolves a problem offers an automatic win-win. But that’s not wholly accurate. Buying isn’t as simple as choosing a solution. The very last thing people want is to buy anything, regardless of their apparent need.

As outsiders sellers can’t know the tangles of people and policies that hold a problem/need in place. The time it takes them to design a congruent solution that includes buy-in and change management is the length of their sales cycle. Buyers need to do this anyway; it’s the length of the sales cycle.

If sellers begin by finding those on route to buying and help them efficiently traverse their internal struggles, sellers can help them get to the ‘need/purchase’ decision more quickly and be part of the solution – win-win. No more chasing those who will never close; no more turning off those who will eventually seek our solution; no more gathering incomplete data from one person with partial answers.

Sellers can find and enable those who can/should buy to buy in half the time and sell more product – and very quickly know the difference between them and those who can never buy.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

There are several pieces to the puzzle here.

  • The buyer and the environment the prospect lives in, including people, policies, job titles, egos, relationships, politics, layers of management, rules, etc. that no one on the outside will ever understand. It’s never as simple as just changing out the problem for a new product; they will buy only when they’re certain they can’t fix their own problem.
  • Resolving the problem needs full internal buy-in before being willing to change (i.e. buy) regardless of the efficacy of the fix. A purchase is not necessarily their best solution even if it looks like a fit to a seller.
  • The ability of the buyer to manage the disruption that a new purchase would incur on the system, people, and policies. A fix, or purchase, might be worse than the problem.
  • The seller and the seller’s product may/may not fit in the buyer’s environment due to idiosyncratic, political, or rules-based issues, regardless of the need.
  • The purchase and implementation and follow up that includes buy-in from all who will experience a potentially disruptive change if a new solution enters and shifts their job routines.

There is no right answer

Sellers often believe that buyers are idiots for not making speedy decisions, or for not buying an ‘obvious’ solution. But sales offers no skills to enter earlier with a different skill set to facilitate change or manage risk.

Once buyers figure out their congruent route to change, they won’t have objections, will close themselves, and there’s no competition: sellers facilitate change management first and then sell once everything is in place. No call backs and follow up and ignored calls. And trust is immediate: a seller becomes a necessary partner to the buying decision process.

No one has anyone else’s answer

By adding Buying Facilitation®, collaborative decisions get made that will serve everyone.

Let’s change the focus: instead relegating sales to merely a product/solution placement endeavor, let’s add the job of facilitation to first find people en route to becoming buyers, lead them through to their internal change process first, and then using the sales model when they’ve become buyers.

We can help people self-identify as buyers quickly, with fewer tire-kickers, better differentiation, no competition, and sales close in half the time.

BUYING FACILITATION®

As a seller and an entrepreneur (I founded a tech company in London, Hamburg, and Stuttgart in 1983), I realized that sales ignored the buying decision problem and developed Buying Facilitation® to add to sales as a Pre-Sales tool.

Buyers get to their answers eventually; the time this takes is the length of the sales cycle, and selling doesn’t cause buying. Once I developed this model for my sellers to use, we made their process far more efficient with an 8x increase in sales – a number consistently reproduced against control groups with my global training clients over the following decades.

Buying Facilitation® adds a new capability and level of expertise and becomes a part of the decision process from the first call. Make money and make nice.

Sellers no longer need to lose prospects because they’re not ready, or cognizant of their need. They can become intermediaries between their clients and their companies; use their positions to efficiently help buyers manage internal change congruently, without manipulation; use their time to serve those who WILL buy – and know this on the first contact – and stop wasting time on those who will never buy. It’s time for sellers to use their knowledge and care to serve buyers and their companies in a win-win. Let’s make sales a spiritual practice.

____________

Sharon-Drew Morgen is a breakthrough innovator and original thinker, having developed new paradigms in sales (inventor Buying Facilitation®, listening/communication (What? Did you really say what I think I heard?), change management (The How of Change™), coaching, and leadership. She is the author of several books, including her new book HOW? Generating new neural circuits for learning, behavior change and decision makingthe NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell). Sharon-Drew coaches and consults with companies seeking out of the box remedies for congruent, servant-leader-based change in leadership, healthcare, and sales. Her award-winning blog carries original articles with new thinking, weekly. www.sharon-drew.com She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

May 13th, 2024

Posted In: Communication, Listening, Sales

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