Do you find that sometimes you are heard, and other times you aren’t?

Timing is key. When it’s sunny, who wants to buy an umbrella?

Here, red10 ‘s Hazel Howard shares Cialdini’s “Pre-suasion” research on how to increase your chances of being listened to fairly – with a principle called “Privileged Moments”.

Tony needed to change the way his team were interacting – and fast….

This was no way to work!

Tony’s team were constantly criticised for not being proactive in delivering. His team’s contribution was essential to the successful delivery of the project. Not having them involved in key decision meetings meant they were constantly in reactive mode and expected to be able to deliver ‘on tap’.

He needed a team representative at these meetings to help get on the front foot. He needed to speak with the Sponsor – and soon…

How did it get to this?

Tony led the team well; they liked and trusted him a lot. They often went over and beyond for such a wonderful leader.

Tony had led successful teams for a while in the organisation, but now had a new manager who liked to keep his cards close to his chest. When the large project came up to drive product development Tony naturally assumed one his team would be asked to be part of the group, giving input and involved in making decisions. He was surprised when they weren’t and asked his boss about the omission; believing it would be detrimental to the success of the project.

Tony was advised that not everyone could attend. His manager would be attending and would let Tony know if anything was needed from his team.  This didn’t do much to assure Tony. His new leader had only been in position for a few weeks and Tony wasn’t sure he would appreciate the complexities ahead.

Recognising what needed to be done

After a couple of weeks, Tony’s team were inundated with requests for work from the decisions made by the project team from a variety of sources. Everyone it seemed, needed their input and questions were repeated to different team members. Suddenly, the plans of the team went out the window and they were having to react to a bombardment of questions.

Tony asked his manager if he – or one of the team – could attend the meeting to help stem the tide of requests from different angles and enable more proactive input rather than have all the work spill out from it. He was told he couldn’t.

Another few weeks past and the team were shattered. There had been constant demands from this team and other work was suffering. Tony prided himself on his planning but with this work now deemed priority he had no choice but to allocate the majority of his team to fire-fighting the demands. His team – who enjoyed how Tony had led them in the past – started to make noises about looking for other roles. There had simply been one too many 14 hours day for them.

He needed to speak with Camilla, the sponsor of the project. And fast!

Robert Cialdini’s Pre-suasion Principles to the rescue

He needed to find, what Robert Cialdini calls, a ‘Privileged Moment.’

Cialdini is a best-selling author and with world-wide recognition for his field research on the psychology of influence, has identified 8 key principles he has found that savvy communicators do before delivering a message to get it accepted.

Cialdini’s book on pre-suasion illustrates these principles, based on his research. The first one exists to gain our attention. It is about seeking the right moment to tell someone something; when they have no distractions and are ready to listen to what you have to say: the Privileged Moment.

It is about connecting with the recipient at the right time. This could be if something has gone wrong and the other party can provide a right (for example). It provides a win:win situation for both parties.

Seizing the moment

Is was what Tony needed to find; that Privileged Moment with Camilla.

A few days later, Tony attended a presentation where senior leaders took to the stage and talked about the balance of work and life and how important it was to the organisation. Camilla was one of the presenters. This was the moment – the subject was relevant and the recipient with well-being at the forefront of their focus. Once it had finished, he approached Camilla.  She acknowledged him. He told her how much he enjoyed her presentation.

Tony asked if she had a couple of minutes as he wanted to explain how the balance of work was far outweighing any life his team members were having, based on the current situation they found themselves in. Camilla listened. She was amazed that his team weren’t present at the meetings and promised Tony that this would be rectified straight away.

As they walked back to the office together, she asked about Tony and his ambitions – she had heard how good he was – and mentioned that she had a role she would also like him to consider for the future. Tony said he would consider it; once his team were back on an even keel.