1 Big idea to think about

  • If you want to increase your influence 10 X, start by clearly stating what matters to the other person.

2 ways you can apply this

  • Adopt this mindset: I am sincerely interested in identifying what matters to others.
  • Complete the “Pre-state” Exercise by following these steps:
    • List the top 5 challenges of the person with whom you’d like to increase your influence.
    • Estimate the size of that challenge for them (dollar amount, % of time, etc.)
    • Put these challenges in priority order.
    • Ask to share the list with them.
    • Ask, “Where am I wrong?”

3 Questions to ask

  • How often do I approach situations by starting with my agenda instead of focusing on the other person’s agenda?
  • What would happen if I understood exactly what really mattered to other people?
  • Who can I practice the pre-state strategy with today?

Key Moments From The Show 

  • A simple mindset shift that will help you focus on what really matters to others (1:54)
  • How to increase your influence by 10X (7:22)
  • The value of pre-stating (9:26)
  • Using pre-stating in personal relationships (10:02)
  • Specific steps to increase your influence (15:32)
  • How people lose influence while trying to increase it (16:46)
  • How you can apply this principle right now (19:31)

Greg McKeown (00:02):

Welcome wherever you are tuning in from I’m Greg McKeown. And this is the second episode of the newly minted Greg McKeown Podcast. And I’m with you on this journey to learn how to negotiate when it matters with the people who matter most. Have you ever wanted to increase your influence significantly with someone who is currently outside your sphere of influence? An executive, you’re trying to pitch an idea to, or increase your credibility with someone who maybe seems too busy to take you seriously right now, or a potential client who would be a gamechanger to your business. Maybe it’s closer to home? A teenager who seems to have shut you out or a spouse who you feel like you have an intention with right now. Well, here’s the commitment for today. In this episode, I will share with you a single mindset shift that will help you immediately increase your influence with the people who matter to you. Let’s get to it. If you want the ideas in this episode to go to work for you faster for you to put them together and get results from these ideas more quickly. Here’s my invitation. Teach the ideas in this episode to someone else within 24 to 48 hours of listening to it. Will you do that?

Greg McKeown (01:54):

Let’s start with a story. It’s a high stakes meeting with a top tech client. It’s a highly competitive bid for a huge contract. They go into the main offices. They badge in. They get sent to the conference room. They’re waiting for a while. The client finally arrives. It’s an entourage of people. This is the moment. This is the opportunity. And Tyler Beecham, who is the CEO of Trace Three, or he was at the time. It’s an it service management company. Tyler is as charismatic and as engaging as anyone I have met. He’s the type of person who was always surrounded by friends in the neighborhood. When he was a kid, always the center of fun and has built much of this business around that charisma and this vision for how technology can be truly valuable to these top clients, the world over. Now challenge that Tyler is facing at one level is simple.

Greg McKeown (03:02):

He wants the client to say yes, but not to a single sale, not one that just falls immediately into the price of the technology that they are selling. Because there’s a risk here. There are so many technology providers battling that it’s almost like selling a commodity. The contract goes to the lowest offer the lowest bidder. So he wants to make the price as irrelevant as possible and also get the relationship, not just get the deal. The problem with all of that is that this client is getting pitched all day long from these competitors. It’s a bit like mark Cuban from shark tank, who said that people are pitching him everywhere he goes. People put pitches to him when he is in the bathroom. They’ll literally put the pitch under the store. Uh, it’s not exactly like that. But this client is in a market where there’s lots of players who are motivated to sell to them.

Greg McKeown (04:02):

And they’re hearing these pitches all the time. They are pitch weary. So what can he do? What can be heard when the roar of the competitors is so loud? So what can he do? How can he be heard? When the roar of all of these competitors is so loud? He could pitch about the features of their newest solutions. He could speak about their superior customer service. He could talk all day long about their past successes, but he didn’t do any of those things. He wrote down before the meeting, what he believed the top five business concerns were for this client. Then he prioritized them based on his assumptions of what is going on in the business. This is the top five in priority order. In the next column, he added financial estimates for what he thought these problems would be worth to the client in a dollar amount.

Greg McKeown (05:02):

The whole thing could be fit into a single piece of paper. Maybe even a three by five card. He’s not overthinking it, but he is thinking in this particular way. When he gets to the meeting and after the pleasantries, he said, “Look, could we just start with me making sure I understand what’s really important to you?” So he steps to the whiteboard and he wrote out what he had prepared in just a couple of minutes to put it up there. And then he adds this brilliant, simple request, “Tell me where I’m wrong.” The rest of the meeting was spent discussing what really mattered to them. They said things like, “Well, what you’ve put is number three is really number one for us. Let’s explain why. Or you see number two, you’ve identified as a 5 million problem, but really it’s worth 50 million for us because of these reasons.” They add, “Well, this is something that’s not up there, but it needs to be. You know, the acquisition of new customers is our huge imperative in this financial year.”

Greg McKeown (06:05):

Or maybe they add, “Well, number five, isn’t even in our top 10 anymore. It was last year, but it’s not anymore. Now let me explain.” Tyler said to me, I walked out of the meeting with clarity about what really mattered to them. I mean, the selling was over. All I did was walk through how I could help them solve these priority problems. Well, how did it turn out? I mean, they got the contract. How did things work out in the end? Well, they got the relationship too. This approach changed the conversation from competing on price. You know what we would call in strategy, a red ocean strategy where everyone’s fighting over the same opportunity and competing instead against nobody, a blue ocean strategy, everyone was talking about features and functionality pitching a variety of competencies that could be useful. They were the only ones in that whole cycle who approached the relationship in this way.

Greg McKeown (07:10):

In fact, this approach repeated many times over is a key reason for how Trace Three has grown at high digit growth year upon year upon year. So here’s the point. If you want to increase your influence, 10 X start by stating what matters to the other person more clearly than they can. Put your agenda, always, in terms of the other person’s agenda. I mean, what about you? What would happen in your life if you understood exactly what really mattered to other people and of course what doesn’t matter to them? What would happen if you understood exactly what your customers valued and what they don’t care about at all? What would happen if you understood exactly what your spouse valued and what they don’t? What would happen if you understood exactly what your children valued and what they don’t? I don’t mean generally. I mean, precisely. Stop doing the things that cost you a lot, but don’t make a big deposit to other people.

Greg McKeown (08:19):

Instead start doing the things that are cheap for you, but make a huge deposit to other people. Things that cost you the most should never be offered to people who value it the least. Think of the value here. And of course the comparative waste that we’re talking about, what would happen is that your contribution would go up without you burning out. And the way to achieve it as illustrated by this Trace Three example is through precision listening and understanding. What I might describe as proactive restating in interpersonal relationships. There’s a principle, I believe in it deeply that if you can restate what someone else is feeling, what they’re understanding to their satisfaction, they’ll become far more open to your influence. I’ve experienced that without exaggeration a hundred times. More. But this example from Tyler is something different. This is what I might describe as a pre-state. That is an attempt to restate before the other person has said anything at all.

Greg McKeown (09:35):

It’s your attempt to try to think about their world, but then to introduce to them the idea that this is just a first offering, you’re not presuming it’s all correct. That’s why that question’s so great. You have tell me where I’m wrong. Assuming that you’re wrong, be corrected. Let them red mark the page, show you where your thinking’s off so that you walk away with a precise understanding of what really matters. This pre-stating is a tool that you can start using immediately. In fact, I was talking to my wife Anna. It has been a full day, a long day. I could tell that Anna was full. You know, she had things she wanted to talk about, but sometimes when she gets full, she doesn’t just have all the words immediately ready at hand. So it’s important to share, but she’s still trying to process them and turn them into words.

Greg McKeown (10:34):

My goal was to connect with her, to have that kind of deep, emotional connection that I know matters enormously to her, perhaps more than any other thing in our relationship. But it was also late enough that we didn’t have hours and hours to be able to go through that process and still get a good night’s sleep. So I followed exactly the steps that Tyler did with this high stakes client. While Anna was writing in her journal, I took a moment not to write in mind, but to make a list of what I thought the top five challenges were that were on Hannah’s mind. And a little bit of context. Why, why do these things matter so much? I put them in priority order. This was just a, microburst. Less than 10 minutes of work. But it meant that as we began the conversation, I was able to initiate a pre-state look, I just put some notes together.

Greg McKeown (11:29):

Could I just share these with you? Just tell me where I’m wrong. Am I in the right ballpark? It helped, I think, Anna to feel safe enough to share more, to talk, to feel connected. And that’s what pre-stating can do. Pre-stating can help to open the conversation to accelerate your way to a deeper understanding. You’re not making a case for this is exactly what you feel. You’re not telling someone what to feel or think or believe you’re not arguing. You’re just making a first bid sharing these ideas and it helps the other person to have something immediately to respond to. It helps them to know that you are thinking more about them than about yourself. It removes all of the barriers that exist in relationships. I was trying to explain it to one of my children the other day and use the metaphor I’d heard years ago.

Greg McKeown (12:28):

The metaphor is that when people don’t feel understood, it’s the same as if we just take all the oxygen out of the room right now. If someone did that right now, wherever you are, if all the oxygen was gone, there would only be one thing that you are thinking about only one thing you are motivated by. And that would be of course, to get the oxygen. And as soon as you have the oxygen, you, you wouldn’t even be thinking about it anymore until I’ve just raised it with you. Perhaps none of us have thought about oxygen once today because it’s everywhere because that need is satisfied and a satisfied need, does not motivate. And that’s what happens as people start to feel understood instead of that barrier of feeling, either misunderstood or worried about sharing in case you’re going to be misunderstood. That’s a vulnerable exercise that exists constantly between people.

Greg McKeown (13:26):

And once you pre-state, you’re getting through the first layer, at least of the onion of understanding. Now, of course there are multiple layers, but you immediately get through. Maybe it’s more than one. Maybe you get through the first two or three right there to begin with in your opening moment. It shows that someone can trust that you are interested in their agenda, not just your own. The effect on my relationship with Anna was not just immediate. And it was. But even by the next day, we started off closer. There was more connection. And as all of us know by experience in any relationship when the understanding is high enough, everything is easier. When the misunderstanding exists, everything becomes harder. So let’s go back to these original questions. Have you ever wanted to increase your influence with someone currently a little outside of your sphere of influence?

Greg McKeown (14:31):

It could be an executive. It could be a potential client. It could be a partner, a spouse, a teenager that for whatever reasons you don’t feel like there’s enough connection with enough influence right now. What I’ve said from the beginning is that in this episode, there’ll be a mindset shift that if you utilize and a tool to go with it, you’ll be able to immediately increase your influence with other people who matter to you. So the mindset, to be clear, is that you are seriously interested in identifying what matters most to them. And that you express that clearly in advance so that they don’t have to take you through all the layers of understanding. Or sit there, analyzing your presentation or whatever you are saying and trying to figure out whether that’s even relevant to them. Another term for what this tool is, is to think about it as the influence builder.

Greg McKeown (15:32):

Let’s just go through again, the specific steps that you can utilize right now to apply what we are learning and to increase your influence. Number one, write down the top five challenges for the person you’d like to increase your influence with number two, estimate the size of that challenge for them. It could be in dollar amounts if it’s a business relationship or it could be in other ways, but to just put a little more context as to why it matters and how big of a challenge you think it is. Number three, put them in what you think the priority order is for them. Don’t worry if you end up being wrong, just take a stab at it. Number four, ask to share the list with them and then share it. And fifth, ask them to share with you, where am I wrong? Where is my thinking incorrect?

Greg McKeown (16:31):

What would you want to fix in the assumptions I’m making here? I’m completely open. I want to understand. See that’s the spirit of the mindset I’m trying to advocate for in this conversation today. There’s a huge, huge difference between a person who is trying to pursue their own agenda, their own ideas in the world, and someone who is seriously interested in understanding the other person. First, people that do that in my experience are surprisingly rare. How often it is that people begin with their own agenda, with the things they’re trying to achieve. They reach out to you when they want something. They try to articulate why that is important and helpful to them. They start by speaking of their own agenda. And the busier that people are, the more responsibilities they’re taking on, the less space they have for people initiating those kinds of interactions.

Greg McKeown (17:40):

And so, as a result, people lose influence often in the very act of trying to increase their influence. They’ve got the order wrong. They’re speaking in terms of their own agenda first and hoping they’ll get later to the other person’s agenda. Start with the other person’s agenda. Start by trying to understand seriously, what’s important to them, and what’s not important to them at all. As you think about these ideas, and I’m just putting them together here, I want to just ask you a couple more questions. Have you ever put in the effort in a relationship, but found that the return on effort, the ROE was actually low? Have you ever worked hard on a pitch and seen it fall completely flat? Opposite to the Tyler effect. Have you ever bought a gift for someone and felt the awkwardness of it not being what they really wanted at all?

Greg McKeown (18:39):

And even if you haven’t experienced that, which I’m sure you have, have you not experienced the other side of it, where somebody gives you a gift and you have to sort of pretend to appreciate it, even though you actually feel my goodness, this is just not what I’d have chosen and they’ve done this nice thing, but this has cost them something, but it, it doesn’t make the deposit equal to the cost. Of course, you’ve had this experience and this is the power of really striving to understand other people first. And this experience we’ve had today, the example of Tyler, the pre-stating approach can work in a business setting, or of course, as I’ve just illustrated in a personal setting as well. I think it can work with anybody that you want to have a greater influence with right now. Look, if you want to accelerate your understanding and implementation of these ideas, you know what to do, teach them to someone else within the next 24 to 48 hours. I’d encourage you to speak to the first person you see. The next person you are in a car with. The next person you’re on a call with. To apply this at the first possible opportunity. Think about the very next meeting you are going to be in formal or informal, and just make a note. What do you think the top five important challenges are put them in priority order.

Greg McKeown (20:12):

Put in a few details, estimating the challenge of it and saying that magic question, “Tell me where I’m wrong.” Because if you are really interested in getting it right, rather than being right, you’ll actually be less wrong and less wrong and less wrong. That is a key to greater influence.

Greg McKeown (20:42):

Thanks for listening to the podcast. And if you haven’t yet make sure to subscribe and leave a review. If you found this episode valuable. Did you know that I send a one minute tip every Wednesday to help you design a life? That really matters the best part of it. It’s free. It’ll sign up at gregmckeown.com/1MW for one minute, Wednesday. If you sign up this week, you will get a printable tool for applying what we have just talked about. A simple tool you can use to identify what’s essential to other people so that you can increase the influence yourself. It’s called the Influence Builder. You get it for free. Just sign up for the one minute Wednesday newsletter, and we’ll send it to you. Join me for episode three in just a few days to continue this journey together.