Hi Everyone,

If you want an insight in to the art of influencing (or not influencing!), watch ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here’, (picture from www.mirror.co.uk). Whilst the programme is not perhaps everyones cup of tea (I’m slightly ashamed to admit I love it!) it does offer some great insights in to what happens when you throw strangers together in extreme circumstances and ask them to get on with it. Camping together in the jungle, relationships develop much more quickly than would happen elsewhere (a bit like a hot house version of real life), and there is a lot of opportunity for misunderstanding (again, just like real life?).

It all kicked off in the camp last night. If you’re not a fan I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but essentially everyone is arguing with everyone else, and it has reminded me of two key lessons that build nicely on the ideas we explored last time (blog of 11th November), about being influential.

The first is that to influence other people it is really helpful to spend time wondering what’s going on for them.

What helps us to do this is to really listen to and notice them, and for some of us that’s not a natural gift. We live our lives from our own perspective, seeing the world clearly and struggling to understand that others might see it differently, and whilst there is nothing wrong with that (in fact if we lose it we risk compromising what is important to us), to be really influential we need to step out of this 1st position and do all that we can to see the world from the other person’s point of view, from 2nd position.

Many of those in the jungle live in 1st position. I suspect that is why they have been chosen to take part!!

To get to 2nd position we need to not only notice what someone is sharing with us, but to use it too. Really noticing, (sensory acuity) is not just what’s said, but what isn’t said as well, along with pitch, intonation, body language, breathing, that sixth sense, the whole thing. And to notice others we need to stop focussing on ourselves. If we give ourselves the opportunity most of us are good at noticing this stuff, but what we don’t tend to do is use it. And that’s the bit of sensory acuity that makes the difference. Instead of making assumptions the trick is to avoid interpreting what we experience from our own perspective (if we do that we are back in 1st position) and instead to wonder about it and ask questions. We need to be curious.

The second lesson the jungle group are sharing is how easy they find it to assume that someone else is out to get them.

Whatever the decision, someone usually takes it as a slight. As an observer we get to see the trouble the decision maker takes to be fair or do the right thing, only to have it thrown back at them by the person it effects because they assume that they are being got at. The possibility that the decision maker has a positive intent seems to pass them by. Again, wondering about someone’s motivation requires us to step in to 2nd position and be curious.

That lack of curiosity contributes to making ‘I’m a Celeb’ such great car crash TV. Over and over the ‘celebs’ make their point with no awareness of other people, their motivations or needs. Persistently talking over each other and stating their opinions as facts they so often overlook, ignore or fail to enquire about what is right in front of them, which leads to  arguments and misunderstandings that are great for TV viewing, but perhaps not so great for real life.

And whilst it seems very extreme in the jungle I suspect we can all relate to what we see as we experience it in our own lives too. We all have the potential to have ‘I’m a Celeb’ moments!!

And how do we know being curious will make a difference? Because when we are curious and use what we find out well it really changes things. A wonderful moment in last night’s show was when, after hours of argument, name calling and tears, one camp mate wondered what was motivating the main protagonist:  .

I’ve noted something. I think that all she wants is to feel appreciated

And with that insight and her curiosity to wonder what causes what she’s seen, she solved the argument within moments by showing appreciation for the protagonist who, as a consequence, changed her behaviours.

Now that’s why curiosity is so powerful when we are influencing.

So, maybe that’s all it takes: the energy to notice what the clues are and the curiosity to ask what they mean. So easy to spot when you’re watching it on the telly. Much less easy to do when you’re in the thick of it in your own life, but perhaps worth the effort none the less?

Thanks for reading this blog. I love sharing ideas from the Choose You Project, and its great to get your feedback (lots of great comments about last times’ blog on the JL advert!) so do please keep it coming.