The Gear Shift

Shifting to Influence. Attempting to influence someone at the very beginning of a conversation is like trying to start a car in fifth gear. To move from communicating for knowledge to communicating for influence we must learn to shift up through the natural steps of progression to get there. When tension rises because of influence, we must also learn to shift down to keep the lines of communication open. There are five gears we need to learn to negotiate.

The Gears

Listen I must always be prepared to begin with listening, especially when I am the one initiating a conversation. Bedore I speak I need to use listening skills to ensure the other person is willing and able to listen to me.

Build/Repair Building an adequite level of rapport or passport is essential to shift up to influence. Others must sense I am willing to offer them mutual respect, understanding, and genuiness. They must also feel like I care about their intrestes as much as my own. We must build trust. If trust has previously been violated, or is violated in the course of the conversation, I must willing and able to shift back down and make repairs.

Explore This gear involves a style of communication that is completely exploratory. We do our best to put our preconceptions and assumptions aside and explore everyone's thoghts, interests, and concerns. This is where we also openly explore and brainstorm possibilities without judgment and premature evaluation. In this gear I must practice exploratory talking and listening skills.

Report In this gear I give clear "I" messages about the five areas of my experience outlned in the IMap. The tone in this gear is important. The aim is to simply report my data, my thoughts, my wants, my feelings, and my deeds without exessive emotional drama. I also openly listten to others report thier awareness without emotionally reacting. Managing my emotions, using The Process Compass, is essential here. In this gear I am still only communicating to know and be known.

Influence When trust levels are high, conversations can shift into influence. In this gear conversations can get enimated, emotional and intense as the pariticpants challenge, debate, persuade. When the relationship is solid, conversing in this gear can be fun and exhilarting. But again, I need to observe certain principles and use certain skills to keep the ocnversation at this level satisfying and prodctive.

The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out. (Proverbs 20:5)

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly. (Proverbs 15:2 New American Stand Version)

The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (Proverbs 10:32)