Five keys to influencing up (Feb 19, 2020 issue)

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More mid-week actionable insights! Let me know what you think by hitting Reply.

Five keys to influencing up

Master difficult conversations

Learn my best tips for staying cool under pressure and elevating your leadership in complex times.


Want to shape how a senior executive sees you? Here are five keys:

  1. Discover how she sees you today.  What’s her current take on you? What’s behind this assessment?
  2. Before influencing, let yourself be influenced. Bob Dunham taught me this. What is this person trying to achieve? What social needs—like status or autonomy—need to be filled for her nervous system to grant you an opening?
  3. Learn through observation. People will teach you 80 percent of what you need to learn about them without any effort on your part. All you have to do is observe.
  4. Make powerful offers. Rather than waiting for direction, design an offer that benefits the organization. Frame it around the executive’s interests. If she accepts your offer, you’ve created a shared future.
  5. Prepare extra for meetings with her. Rehearse the conversation with a coach or trusted colleague. Block out 30 minutes before to get grounded, centered and present.

Knock your next difficult conversation out of the park

Maybe you don’t want to design forty difficult conversations a year like I do. But if you could choose one difficult conversation to knock out of the park, what would it be?

What’s up with the podcast?

It’s gestating. Under design. When it’s back, you’ll see a new name, new format, and even more actionable focus.

Use recovery periods to stay in the Zone

Many leaders think that taking breaks indicates a defect. You’re weak, timid, or don’t care enough.

I disagree. To give your best for sustained periods and reduce mistakes, recovery periods are essential. Your brain needs them to learn. Your body needs them to stay focused and grounded. And guess what? Your colleagues need you to take them, because you’re a wiser and kinder person when you do.

This isn’t complicated. After fully engaging for 90 minutes, take a 5-minute break. Go for a short walk. Drink a glass of water. Wash your face. Stretch. Sprint. Use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm. Whatever it takes for you to renew. Then fully engage for another 90 minutes. Then, you guessed it: another 5-minute break.

As in sports, it’s hard work, then release. Stress, then recovery. Just do it, then just rest it.

Cheerfully real,
Amiel Handelsman

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