If you know me at all, you know I do not hold back about my political and religious beliefs. I am who I am and you will either respect me for it or not. That is up to you. So when Dr. Luntz started off his third chapter with, “Say what you will, Bill Clinton is a winner,” he almost lost me. My first reaction was: Are you insane, Dr. Luntz?
Then I read on and he clarified the point he was making. See, Clinton was a master at understanding the American people and communicating back to them in a manner such that they believed he felt their pain. In this sense, Bill Clinton was most certainly a winner.
Luntz’s definition of people-centeredness is basically the ability to understand and connect with people—not necessarily on a social level, but on an internal drive level—to understand others better than they understand themselves.
According to Luntz, it is this ability that allows winners to fill the voids in people’s lives; voids that they themselves may not even realize exist. Think Steve Jobs.
Luntz asks you to answer five questions to determine if you have the essential attributes of a people-centered person. If you answer yes to 4 of the 5 he says you do:
- Do you look others right in the eye?
- Do you repeatedly ask “why”?
- Do you analyze what you can gain from each interaction?
- Do you actively look to improve products, results or situations?
- Do you apply your experiences?
What do you think of these questions? Personally, I think that an extremely important question is missing:
- Do you improve the human condition?
Admittedly, this could probably be wrapped in question four, but I believe that asking it more directly separates those who do all of those things for selfish reasons from those who are truly people-centered. What do you think?
Luntz goes on to describe several other skills that the people-centered possess: storytelling, listening and learning, asking the right questions, filling the void and addressing others’ fears.
He starts this section off with, “People-centered winners expertly employ imagery, metaphors, and stories. They make you step out of your perceptions, if only for a moment, to explore their vision on their terms.”
That is to say, they are masters at taking you someplace. Then, when you get there, you believed all the time that this is exactly where you wanted to go. They desire to connect, and they intuitively know that the best way to connect is through story.
Listening and Learning
I love this explanation: “People-centered winners respect our beliefs (even if they don’t agree with them), recognize the assumptions we make (even if they know we’re wrong), and realize how our past experiences influence actions we take today (even if they can’t truly relate to those experiences).”
When this happens, others will actually bare all, giving you the chance to listen. As they talk, the pains, needs and desires will spill out, and you will gain an understanding of how to help them.
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone who does nothing but disagree with you and try and change your mind? You can probably feel the resistance you had to it just thinking about it.
I am constantly speaking with my oldest daughter Hannah—who is highly intelligent (much smarter than her father)—about the desire to be right. It is my belief that this desire to be right is one of the biggest causes for strife in many relationships. We all hate being proved wrong; it brings up many feelings of unworthiness. What’s worse is that most of the time, even if we are proven wrong, we still hold to the same opinion. The belief does not change, thus leading to an adverse relationship instead of an open one where we listen and learn. This prevents us from moving our lives and relationships in a positive direction.
Asking the Right Questions
This is something I am trying to teach my kids: Asking the right questions has a significant effect on just about everything in your life. For instance, when my thirteen-year-old daughter gets up in the morning, if she asks herself the question: What am I going to wear today? That will not get her very far. She’ll figure out what she’s going to wear, and then… what? If instead she can train her mind to ask, first thing in the morning: What does the Lord want me to accomplish for Him today? It sets that day on a whole different focus and path. Now she has a goal and a mission! The questions we ask are powerful: asking the right ones makes all the difference in what we accomplish in our lives.
Dr. Luntz quotes Tony Robbins: “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions and as a result, they get better question.”
Dr. Luntz goes on to talk about finding “The Truth.” Now, this can be a slippery subject because everyone today has their own truth. But that is precisely the point: we need to discover what someone’s truth is and understand how they came to that truth. This is critical if we want to win. Finding that truth requires expertise in asking questions, the ability to listen and understand, and the ability to do both of these things without passing judgment on them. If you judge, you will lose every time
Find Out What is Missing
This is nothing new; there has always been something missing in someone’s life. Dr. Luntz refers to it as the “void.” Discover this void and you can win big like some of the masters, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. One of my favorites whom Luntz references in his book is Fred Smith. With one simple line, he transformed FedEx and made it what it is today: “When it Absolutely, Positively Has to Be There Overnight” Genius!
“You absolutely must identify with people’s fears as a means of demonstrating that you understand their needs.”
If you cannot do this you will never be able to help people move towards their hopes. I have found that most people move away from pain or fear faster than they move towards a hope or dream. It is even more powerful if you can tie the two together: showing and communicating that by achieving your hope and dreams or by filling that “void” you will also avoid your biggest fears and solve your biggest problems.
He wraps up the chapter with a list of words that work. I listed them here, but I would get the book so you can read the small print:
- I’m listening
- I hear you
- I get it
- I respect you
- My commitment
- You’re in control
- You decide
So what are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you!