By Kevin E. O’Connor, CSP

ACPE faculty member Kevin E. O’Connor, CSP, will present focused sessions on Relationship Building and Change Management at the AAHPM Leadership Forum: Ascend program, September 14-16, 2014. AAHPM Ascend is a new intensive program included in the AAHPM’s comprehensive new Leadership Forum.

“The greatest problem in communication is the assumption that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw, playwright

When we wish to influence, we need to know others in a special and unique way. Empathy requires accurate listening, but it also requires an ability to communicate your understanding.

Summarize what you think you heard and ask if you have accurately understood. This shows the participant and the rest of your audience that you take the feedback seriously and that you are open to their viewpoint.

Influence Means Action
You must take action on what others are unwilling or too fearful to consider at any given time. Influence is about having a vision and a plan that is so elegantly simple that others will have a “why didn’t I think of that?” experience.

In presentations, that can simply mean helping your listeners figure out how they feel about a new idea or perspective. Take a poll. Share visions. Brainstorm solutions.

Afterwards, pay attention to their verbal and nonverbal feedback. See where there is room for improvement, where there is an opportunity to smooth out sections or make areas more clear.

Influence Through Simplicity
Everyone always has at least two major concerns as they enter meetings or presentations: “What is this about and what does it have to do with me?” Answer those questions, and you will increase your influence.

  • Steer clear of surprises.
  • Use less jargon. Don’t create confusion by using less than clear language.
  • Avoid acronyms. State the words until you know your audience understands what the acronym letters stand for.
  • Use smart analogies that make sense, not worn out clichés that no longer connect with the listener.

Finish Strong
When you conclude a presentation, you need to reach inside other people and encourage them to be innovative and to try new things: “what would happen if we did this?” Always remain open enough to change your mind to welcome new ideas.