Recently, I have been working with a number of executives who are being put through their paces to explain, persuade, and justify their approach to their Board and to other senior constituents. Many have been called to defend their point of view around their specific strategies, their financial investments, their sales forecasts, or even as broad an issue as to where they are taking their organization!
Needless to say, many grow frustrated with their inability to sell their approach and get the necessary buy-in to move forward. They don’t get from where their opponents and questioning parties are coming. They wonder: “Aren’t we all on the same team? Didn’t you put me in this position to make the hard calls? You promoted me to lead this team – let me do that!” Sound familiar?!
One question which may be worth considering when we don’t get where they are coming from and they obviously don’t get where we are coming from is simply:
“For the sake of what are you asking that question?”
Often it is as simple as just getting to the root driver of their questions. Once we know what they truly need and want, THEN we can better understand what is driving the underlying question. If we sincerely seek to understand THEIR point of view, then more times than not we can identify common ground on which to base our discussion and ongoing negotiation.
Simple – yet powerful. Try it the next time you are being ask to defend or explain your approach if it differs from those from whom you need support. If nothing else, you will have greater awareness of their point of view; and this will open dialogue to better understand how you and your team can be in service to the whole. And, at the end of the day, that is what it is all about, isn’t it?