Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have it. Bill Clinton is a master; so was Ronald Reagan. Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa used it to inspire millions of people.
In fact, I believe that this single skill is so critical, it is virtually impossible to succeed at anything without it, at least not in any meaningful way.
I’m not talking about positive thinking; assertiveness; negotiating skills; an improved vocabulary, appearance or education; or even the “secret” law of attraction. All of these things are great, and might even contribute to success. But they’re of little value without the skill I’m referring to.
So just what is this super power, used every day by the world’s most successful people to achieve greatness?
Very simply, it is the ability to put yourself in the place of another.
Can it really be that simple? Just walking a mile in someone’s shoes? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. But if you can truly understand and appreciate a given situation from the other person’s point-of-view, there is almost nothing you can’t accomplish.
Let me explain. Close your eyes and imagine yourself being super successful at whatever it is you want to achieve. Business or career achievement, financial abundance, public acclaim, positive relationships. Don’t just envision the final results – all that money, the big house, the yacht, the respect, the fun. Think about what you would actually have to do to make it all happen.
What kinds of actions, interactions, transactions, conversations, activities are you engaged in? What do you look like in your picture? Are you happy, confident, self-assured? Are there other people in your scene? What do they look like? Are they working against you, struggling or fighting with you, disagreeing with your opinions, trying to make you fail? Or are they cooperating, accepting what you say and do, contributing to your success. Are they buying what you’re selling, showing you respect, supporting your efforts, doing what you ask of them?
In fact, in order to achieve almost any type of success — or in other words, in order to get something you want that you don’t have now ‘ you must have the involvement of others.
That’s right, in just about every area of life, the one thing you absolutely need to succeed is the cooperation, acceptance, approval, buy-in, support or agreement of at least one other person, and probably many more. You might like you believe you can do it all on your own – but in almost every case, you simply cannot. Somebody, somewhere has to respond to your efforts in a favorable manner, one that supports your goals.
For example, if you’re in sales and want to achieve greater selling success, it is necessary for customers or clients to buy more from you.
If you are interested in fast-tracking your career, you’ll need the acknowledgment and recognition of the person or people you report to.
You will never land your dream job unless the person doing the hiring offers it to you.
Negotiating a sweetheart business deal is only going to happen if the person on the other side of the table says, “yes” to your offer.
The list of examples goes on and on. In the sixteenth century, John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself,” and it seems he was absolutely correct. When you really think about it, almost nothing ever happens without the participation of others. And by developing the ability to view your interactions with others, whether across a conference room table or the dinner table, from their position, you will be better able to negotiate an outcome that is beneficial to both of you.
In other words, win-win solutions.
Corporate leaders take their businesses to new heights by understanding the needs of their customers, employees and shareholders ‘ and providing the value they demand.
Politicians must speak to the desires and hopes of voters in order to get elected.
Spiritual leaders touch the hearts of entire populations, inspiring great acts of sacrifice, responsibility and charity.
Why not give it a try, and see what kind of results you begin to achieve. Here are some simple steps to get you started.
1. Learn as much as you can about the people you deal with. Who are they really? What matters to them? What do they like? What do they fear? What kind of background do they come from? Advertisers know this; so do politicians. The more information you have about the people you interact with, and what makes them “tick,” the better able you will be to connect.
2. Try to pretend you are the other person or people. How do you feel? What gets you excited? What makes you angry? And most important, what would it require to make you feel good about taking the next step toward an mutually beneficial agreement?
3. Look for the common connection. Consider what really matters to the other person, and also what matters to you. Is there some common thread, some place to find mutual agreement? Search for a way to share a common goal or desired outcome, and build on that.
4. Communicate with them in their language. If the person you’re dealing with spoke only Japanese, it would be difficult for you to make headway (assuming you didn’t speak the language). It’s not just what they need to hear, it’s how they need to hear it that counts. Learn their unique language, and speak it to them. Is it simple or technical? Warm and friendly or businesslike? Quiet or excited? Think about the great communicators of our time, and how they deliver their messages, and you’ll see how important it is to use the right style of communication.
Note: There is an added benefit to approaching your dealings with others in this way. Not only will you start getting more of what you want ‘ you’ll enjoy greater respect in the process.
Go ahead — put yourself in their place. And see what happens. I can’t promise you’ll be the next Gates, Buffett or Clinton. Then again, you never know…