What drives decisions in your favour? A lot more than what you say.
What is your strategy for trying to drive decisions in your favour?
I sure hope it's more than just attempting to do your best or trying to be persuasive when speaking to others. Because there are specific strategies you can consciously adopt to sway people's opinions towards yourself.
These strategies can all be boiled down to building TRUST.
This was my key message to the delegation of the Brazilian competition authority (CADE) when I started training them in late October for the OECD peer review in Paris at the end of November. The event was the final step towards becoming an associate member of the group of OECD competition authorities and thus it was a high-stakes performance event for them.
So how do we build trust with our interlocutors? Be that in a peer review, in a presentation or a business meeting.
Trust, a survival strategy that has been hard-wired into us from before the cavemen/woman times, can be either rooted in a long relationship or we need to build it, or start building it, on the spot.
What we say and how we say it is of course important. It has to make sense and we need to come across as competent in the subject matter we are talking about. This is not, however, why the Brazilian competition authority hired me. They are experts in their field and know their stuff much better than I ever could. They hired me to support them in how to speak in public to drive the decisions they want with more than the content of their answers.
Because trust is built with a lot more than just with what we say. In a public speaking situation or when we deal with clients,
the name of the game is congruity.
Congruity between what we say and do with our body. Between what we say and how we are dressed. Between what the different members of a group say and do if there is more than one person representing your organisation.
This is why one of the focal points of the training at the Brazilian competition authority was how the delegation can function as a group, as a well oiled machine in which the different elements/delegates support each other verbally and non-verbally and deliver the same message in different ways. In other words, how they can act as a congruent whole throughout the two-and-a-half hour intense questioning.
So we focused on body language tricks to radiate confidence and build trust from the moment they entered the room, to the moment they left. We worked out strategies for the best seating arrangement, taking the room layout and the roles, strengths and weaknesses of the individual delegates into consideration, so they can support each other seamlessly. We worked on how the rest of the team can use body language to constantly support the message delivered by the person answering questions at any particular time. And we devised ways they used to signal to each other their intention to supplement the answer being given by a fellow delegate.
This all obviously worked very well as one of the many things they were complemented on was the team's performance.
Apart from congruity, the memorability of their message was another key focal point of the training. There are different ways to embed your message in your audience's mind and make it work like a song they heard somewhere and keep hearing mentally. But that will be the subject of another post.
The Brazilian competition authority will have to wait a few months for the decision of their OECD peer club. However, I am confident their efforts will be met with success because they performed very well thanks to doing what every serious professional should do. Prepare the best they could.
And during the preparation they understood that to sway decisions in our favour, although what we say is undoubtedly very important, we should not forget that at the end of the day how successful we are will depend on more than just what we say. Because building trust is not just verbal. And how congruent our inaudible communication is can add to or subtract from our success.
How do you build trust while doing business?