For over 35 years, Shelle Rose Charvet has researched the power of words and language. At the heart of this is the Language and Behavior Profile (LAB) system, which you can learn from her best-selling book, Words That Change Minds: The 14 Patterns for Mastering the Language of Influence (I included this in my Forbes.com post regarding the best management books for entrepreneurs and executives). It has proven quite effective for just about any context, whether for business or personal relationships. Keep in mind that Charvet’s focus is about finding hidden triggers that motivate people at the unconscious level.
Sounds kind of heady, right? Actually, Charvet has a way of making her concepts easy and understandable.
For me, I was particularly interested in how they could help entrepreneurs, who are usually new to management. Yet if they get things wrong the consequences can be devastating.
So in an interview with Charvet, she provided the following helpful advice:
Mistake #1: Many managers think if you give someone the correct information, it will change their behavior. If you tell someone what to do, they will do it.
Yet research has repeatedly shown that when given the correct information, people double-down on erroneous beliefs. Most people dislike being told what to think, what to do or what to believe, especially by their boss (or spouse!). Even a simple statement of facts can be perceived as “Command Language” and raise hackles.
Then managers end up spending a frustrating amount of time checking if tasks were completed, and done correctly.
I suggest using the Suggestion Model™, to avoid this passive resistance, get more buy-in, and more things done on time and well. And it’s an easy 4-step process.
- Make a suggestion
- State what problem it avoids or solves
- State the benefit
- Overall why it’s easy to do
Here’s an example: “I believe this version of the software makes the most sense right now because it doesn’t have the issues the other ones have, plus it integrates well with the other software you are using, and it will be fairly easy to implement.”
Mistake #2: Managers are still using the “Feedback Sandwich” that has demoralized millions of team members around the world.
You know the drill: Your boss compliments you, and then you brace for the expected “improvement point” (lightly-disguised criticism), followed by a vaguely-worded bit of praise. This ubiquitous method has trained people to be immediately suspicious of any positive comments and to feel bad even when the news is only good.
Instead, I recommend completely separating praise from critique, so that people won’t cringe whenever you say something nice. They will be more likely to take in the critique and do something about it and it’s easier for you to deliver.
- For praise: Go into your team member’s office or phone them when they are unlikely to pick up the phone. Tell them what they did well, and the positive consequence of that, and then immediately leave the room or hang up the phone, saying “Thanks, gotta go.” (If you stay, they will be waiting for the bad shoe to drop.)
- For critique: You could use the Bad News Formula™ to reduce bad feelings while still getting your message across. This involves clearly telling the bad news first and then adding “but,” which then includes some pieces of good news. It’s so much easier than criticizing.
Mistake #3: A manager often assumes that what is important for him or her is also important for the team.
Having worked with hundreds of teams, the first thing I often notice is the team leader is often disappointed with the lower level of engagement from team members. When they have a discussion on what everyone thinks the objectives are, and which operating values are important, they are all surprised at how different the points of view are.
The first step is to look at the goals and objectives of the team and get input from everyone as to why they are important. Find out what are the personal motivations from the team. It’s not just business. It’s personal!