It’s 1:13pm on Wednesday.
Brad, the new hire, knocks hesitantly on your office door.
His voice is shaky. “Do you have a minute? I could use your advice on something…”
You know it’s never a minute. Not when he looks like a neglected little puppy bringing you a tennis ball. This could take all afternoon. And you have so much work to do.
You glance at the 239 unread emails in your inbox. At the 43-column dumpster fire that Cliff in Finance calls a spreadsheet—and wants you to review “ASAP.”
You remember that TED Talk you watched about how to say “no.”
How you promised yourself you would cut out of work early today and go to the gym for once in your adult life.
This is it, you decide. No more interruptions! Today is the day you’re going to seize control of your schedule, banish distractions, obliterate your “to do” list, reach Inbox Zero, achieve Work-Life Balance, crush your workout, and maybe even download that meditation app Jessica keeps raving about.
It’s time to take your life back.
You look squarely at the nervous little puppy dog at your door.
“Yes, Brad.” you say. “How can I help?”
“Can I get your advice?” is the magic question
It’s impossible to say no! It just feels good to give advice. Our deep-rooted emotional need for respect blooms at the opportunity to feel validated and appreciated. We’ll clear our calendars to dispense wisdom and bask in the sunny glow of Brad’s admiration.
Use this magic question strategically. When you need to build support for a new initiative or strengthen a relationship, ask your stakeholder for advice.
With the magic question you can land a meeting with anyone who knows you. In that meeting, present your well-formed CX idea. The stakeholder will listen intently because they want to give their best advice—it’s their reputation on the line!
You’ll be sharing your idea in a low-pressure conversation and learning valuable insights about your stakeholder’s perspective and their environment.
But that’s not the best part! After giving you advice, the stakeholder will like you more! (Thank you Benjamin Franklin Effect!)
And when someone likes you, they’re more likely to comply with your requests. Be honest with yourself—don’t you have a little soft spot for Brad? How can you not like someone who recognizes your genius?
Ask for the right advice
“But Dave!” you are protesting. “I don’t need CX advice—there’s no one at this company who knows CX like I do.”
Yes—and you should continue to build your reputation as the CX Expert. This influencing technique helps because it gets you in front of key decision-makers to share your expertise in a low-stakes, one-on-one meeting.
But the real beauty of this tactic is you’re NOT asking for CX advice—you’re asking for implementation advice. Like this:
- How do you think this idea would work in our organization?
- Are there any competing priorities I should be aware of?
- What obstacles would we encounter if we attempted this?
- Who needs to be involved to make this successful?
- How could this help you achieve your goals?
Every question teases out little pockets of ignorance, skepticism, and resistance. These are the cultural challenges you need to overcome. Make a list because this is your path to CX buy-in.
The obstacle does not block the path. The obstacle is the path.– Anonymous
You absolutely must not use the magic question as a trojan horse. Do not—under any circumstances—blindside the stakeholder by asking for commitment, time, money, or people.
Imagine how you’d feel if Brad knocked on your door asking for advice, and then he asked you for money instead.
Build trust by being vulnerable. Don’t destroy it by being two-faced.
Hey, CX Leader!
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