Mastering Strategic Conversations: Anticipate to Elevate

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 14 May 2024 00:00
Mastering Strategic Conversations: Anticipate to Elevate Image by pressfoto on Freepik

In my Anticipatory Leader Program, I talk about being Anticipatory in how you approach your business future, identifying disruption before it has the opportunity to disrupt. However, an Anticipatory Mindset is a key strategic tool that can be applied to all areas of life, including the conversations we have both at work and in our personal lives.

I recently had the benefit of speaking with Phil Jones, who is a leading expert on the power of language for influence and persuasion. We discussed the art of structuring conversations and word choices. This is to promote safe spaces where information can be shared with trust and, in turn, innovation can thrive. In fact, Phil and I had such a great conversation, I am able to write even more about what we discussed in yet another article!

My first article was about eliminating friction and creating a gray space of curiosity to facilitate more efficient decision making, which you can read here. In this article, we will dive deep into actionable ways that business leaders can use anticipation to have more effective conversations that lead to productive results.

Anticipating the Conversation

The worst time to think about what you are going to say is the moment when you are saying it. On many occasions, we come away from conversations thinking, “I could have said this” or “I should have said that.” These hindsight comments often leave us believing that adjusting our words would have portrayed an idea better. This way of thinking doesn’t help us because the conversation or presentation is already over.

The conversation has already not gone the way you wished, but what if instead of wishing things went differently, we took the time prior to the conversation to look to the future on what the conversation could be? What if we anticipated any opposition in a conversation and prepared for it?

Your conversations can be exponentially more effective with anticipation! As I teach in my Anticipatory Organization® Model, the future is not an enigma. There are signs that point to the known future, and there are signs that point to how conversations will play out, especially if you use language strategically to drive the conversation in a beneficial direction.

Much like using Hard Trends and Soft Trends to help anticipate the future, using strategic language is a skill that takes time to master. It requires consistent practice and constant refinement in pre-solving problems any given conversation could have. Words are a tool used to help you get a desired result, and similar to every tool, you have to dial it in to use it.

A Formula for Conversational Success

During our conversation, Phil and I discussed a formula for taking any conversation to the next level. He identified six categories of principles outlined in his bestselling book Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact that any leader can use to enhance their skills, and I will outline them briefly below:

1. Rejection-Free Opening

A rejection-free opening is a way to get the ball rolling and to get someone to consider an idea by positioning yourself beside it. Use the phrase, “I’m not sure this is for you, but . . .” The first part of the phrase lights up their subconscious brain by piquing their curiosity. The “but” shifts their focus to what you really think.

Example: I’m not sure it’s for you, but there is an opening within our leadership team.

2. Perspective Change

You cannot change someone’s mind on a subject, but you can change how they perceive it. A perspective change involves words that nudge others in a new direction so they begin to look at something a different way. Giving an individual multiple reasons to view something differently is key.

Example: What is your experience with project management and streamlining operations?

3. Assumption Frame

An assumption frame is a tool that allows you to streamline decision making by giving an individual three options to choose from. The first option should be the hard choice, the second should be something they do not want, and the third should be what you want them to choose. By giving someone options, you empower them to feel that they are making their own decision.

Example: We have three options. One, I could take the lead, but I believe your unique skill set is precisely what we need for this project. Alternatively, we could have someone else manage the project, but it might lack the innovative touch and efficiency you bring to our team. Of course, considering your exceptional experience, leading the upcoming project could be a fulfilling opportunity for you.

4. Labeling

A label is a phrase that helps us to quickly accept something that is true. A caveat to this is that the label must be used with integrity and followed by something that actually is true to build trust.

Example: Don’t worry, your skill on this past project proves you are competent.

5. Staying in the Game

This principle involves words that help keep the conversation going when it might have ended otherwise. When objections arise, indecisiveness takes over, or you hear the dreaded “I’ll get back to you on that,” implement the following example:

Example: Help me to understand what it would take for you to be confident in this role.

6. Making Conversations Count

The last principle in Phil’s formula is to make the most of the conversation by inserting “just one more thing.” You can ask for referrals or get a review, but the best use of this principle is to ask a question to get more information that you can use down the road.

Example: Just one more thing. What are the three things you look forward to or are concerned about in this position?

Turn This System into a Template for Effective Communication

We all have desktop files and online templates that make repetitive work easier to navigate, but these documents must be customized to align with each situation. Why shouldn’t the conversations we have in our work and personal lives follow the same structure? Why shouldn’t we have a template that helps us to be more strategic in how we speak?

We should, and you can!

Words are a vehicle that we use to get our points across and create more efficient conversations that lead to streamlined decisions. Learn to fine-tune your words, implement anticipation in this process, and experience the results for yourself! Join my Anticipatory Leader Membership to access the episode and master the art of anticipatory thinking.

Rate this item
(0 votes)
Daniel Burrus

Daniel Burrus is considered one of the World’s Leading Futurists on Global Trends and Disruptive Innovation. The New York Times has referred to him as one of the top three business gurus.

He is the CEO of Burrus Research, a research and consulting firm that monitors global advancements in technology driven trends to help clients profit from technological, social and business forces that are converging to create enormous, untapped opportunities.

He is a strategic advisor to executives from Fortune 500 companies, using his Anticipatory Business Model to develop game-changing strategies based on his proven methodologies for capitalizing on technology innovations and their future impact. He has delivered over 3,000 keynote speeches worldwide. 

He is the author of seven books, including The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Flash Foresight, and his latest best selling book The Anticipatory Organization, and he is a syndicated writer with millions of monthly readers on the topics of technology driven trends, disruptive innovation, and exponential change. 

Burrus is an innovative entrepreneur who has founded six businesses, four of which were U.S. national leaders in the first year.   His accurate predictions date back to the early 1980s where he became the first and only futurist to accurately identify the twenty exponential technologies that would become the driving force of business and economic growth for decades to come. Since then, he has continued to establish a worldwide reputation for his exceptional record of predicting the future of technology driven change and its direct impact on the business world.

Realty Times

From buying and selling advice for consumers to money-making tips for Agents, our content, updated daily, has made Realty Times® a must-read, and see, for anyone involved in Real Estate.