One of the first lessons I talk about in all of my training programs – live and online – is the concept of observing without judgement.

by JV@NYC

by JV@NYC

At first glance, this may feel like a duh kind of moment. Everyone feels like they get the concept right away. They nod their heads in easy agreement. However, in one-on-one sessions or in group calls, clients realize that the ability to observe without judgement takes a little more effort and awareness than they initially thought.

A perfect example of this came up recently. One of my clients had an important meeting scheduled with their boss. This meeting was the beginning of an important organizational change. My client wanted to make sure that they were considered as a “key player” for what was on the horizon.

I asked my client to send me a description of their boss. They had been through my Building Personal Influence course, so they sent me a rough sketch of the supervisor’s profile, keywords, identifiers, and other insights – the kinds of influential evidence. My client, also went above and beyond by asking a trusted associate to write out some of their thoughts about the boss.

The two different perspectives highlighted a very important lesson.

Here are a few of the comments made by the trusted associate:

  • Supervisor reminds me of a used car salesman
  • A lot of hot air
  • Don’t like him; don’t trust him
  • Afraid the supervisor is disingenuous
  • Wheeler dealer
  • Doesn’t understand the “business” value of things
  • He’s trying to do right by the organization and has the interest of the business at heart – he just doesn’t know how

These are all judgements made by the trusted advisor. There isn’t any evidence given to substantiate the judgements. Plus, there isn’t any shift in perspective (with the possible exception of the last one) of how the supervisor might view the situation or himself. 

SherlockInfluencers must be able to look for key pieces of communication evidence, like Sherlock Holmes, to gain insight about their mark. The evidence must be gathered in a detached way. You create hypotheses, not judgements. A hypothesis is always followed by testing before any conclusions are drawn up.

Then, the best influencers see things through their mark’s perspective. We all do things for a reason. We continue with patterned behavior because in some way those patterns have served us – no matter how misguided they might seem to the rest of the world. 

So, by approaching a mark with judgements – based purely on your own perspective that is informed by your past experiences and biases – you will have little to no chance to be successfully influential. 

Instead of asking yourself, what do I think of this person? It is more effective to ask, what do I know about this person? What have they specifically said? What have they done? What patterns do I notice? Gather the evidence. 

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