Attract Smarter Support Sooner

Dec 18, 2013 | Updated Feb 17, 2014

1. Bring out their best side.
In each situation, whether with a stranger, someone you know intimately, or someone in between, first bring out that person's better side (temperament) or encourage her to demonstrate or discuss her best talent. Then she naturally sees and supports your best side. You are off to a good footing to reinforce each other's best talents and temperament to become happier, higher-performing together.

2. Be their trusted, top-of-mind expert.
Speak English like it tastes good. Give verbal snapshots that penetrate the mind and the gut in an instant then linger, leaving a bright after image. When seeking to persuade or be frequently quoted be the most specific, vivid and authentic describer of the options in a situation. Provide what-if scenarios, with possible near-term consequences to your listener(s) where your approach either avoids a negative consequence and/or leads to a positive outcome.

3. Praise what you want to flourish.
Reinforce the behavior you admire and support others' self-confidence when around you by praising the specific behavior you value and that benefits that person. Multiply the power of your positive words by sharing your praise with the people who most matter to that person. Extra benefit? As you praise those qualities, listeners attribute to you, the very qualities you praise in others.

4. Look to their positive intent, especially when they appear to have none.
When you throw mud you get dirty. When you most want to react with a cutting remark, act kindly. In a less-certain, fast-acting world your biggest gift is kindness in the face of rancor. Even and especially when someone else is acting negatively towards you, praise the part of his current or past behavior that you genuinely respect. It's your best chance of reducing the rancor. Regardless of what he chooses to do, others will observe the sharp contrast between your choice of words and actions and his.

5. Problems seldom exist at the level at which they are expressed.
If you are engaged in an argument that lasts more than ten minutes then you are probably not discussing the deeper, underlying conflict. You are simply hardening your opposing sides. Either ask for a break, suggesting when you would like to re-meet or say you think there is something deeper going on and, in good will, you wish to resolve it.

6. To establish trust, look for the underlying motivation or fear in that person.
We are far more revealing by the questions we ask than the answers we give. To get closer to understanding her strongest motivations, let her take the lead in asking questions. Answer genially, directly but briefly so that she becomes interested in learning more. When she asks a follow-up question, again answer briefly and notice the direction of the questions. By the third, follow-up question, in quick succession you'll have an insight into her underlying concern or wishes -- even if she may not be conscious of it herself. Then you have a better chance of alleviating that concern by what you say or do, often without directly addressing it. Notice, as well, where your questions lead, in learning about your own fears and desires.

7. Go slow to go fast.
Whenever you push against someone's opposition or press for an answer or ask for something too quickly, others tend to resist rather than agree, even when it is in their best interests. In an often blunt, multi-tasking world, give people time to ask questions their way. The more actions one takes on behalf of exploring an option the more likely one is to take it, talk about it and even defend it.

8. Gain an invaluable, unlikely and treasured ally.
More than once in your life, you've been the most neglected person in a social or work situation. You know how awkward it feels. When entering a room where a group is gathered, seek out the most ignored person. Give him your full attention. Ask an open-ended question such as, "What's been one of your favorite moments recently?" Listen to learn and support him. Genuinely reinforce his comments, letting him take the lead. If another person approaches to speak with you, ask that person to join you, not moving away. I've provided communication coaching to several pro basketball players who get "swarmed" when entering a room. This has become one of their favorite "plays" because they've made unexpectedly rich friendships, seen new sides in themselves -- and made their world larger.

9. Keep a talisman of goodness near you.
A glass prism rests on the window shelf in my study, sending rainbows across the room throughout the day, reminding me there's always a way to nourish, to serve, not sabotage a situation, a relationship. It is my choice to ignore or to look for it.