Understanding Someone Else’s Point of View

G and UHarvard Business Review‘s Mark Goulston and John Ullmen discuss how influential people strive for commitment by using various, what I would call, rhetorical strategies to engage others. Goulston and Ullmen claim that there are three steps for “real influence” that we need to engage others:

1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get “It”

2. Personal Awareness: You Get “Them”

3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress

By using the example of trying to explain where you are in a shopping mall to your friend, Goulston and Ullmen believe that we often try to convince others based on our point of view. But, in order to improve our communications skills, we need to make better rhetorical choices by explaining how our friend can reach us from their point of view.

In Rhetoric, we tend to focus on the rhetorical triangle’s context of the situation, the audience, message, speaker, and purpose. By showing that we understand our audience’s “challenges,” then we are now about to offer additional ideas that work from their perspective. We can also use rhetoric to relate to their purpose and try to connect with them. And finally, by showing people that we understand their situation, we become better communicators and makes things more better and more clear.

Goulston and Ullmen say, “When you’re trying to influence, don’t start by trying to pull others into your here. Instead, go to their there by asking yourself:

– Am I getting who this person is?

– Am I getting this person’s situation?

– Am I offering options and alternatives that will help this person move forward?

– Does this person get that I get it?”


What do you think about these ideas? Would this help people become better communicators? Are there other ways rhetoric can assist in speaking to others?


Check out the full article here.

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