“90% of selling safety comes from passion and 10% comes from persuasion. Passion drives your ability to convince anyone of anything.”Denis Baker
The topic of persuasive, purposeful conversations has a common theme in this series and throughout my writings in my two blogs, thesafetyminimalist.com and leaderinfluence.net.
Consider the following:
• Conversations allow for a connection
• Conversations build relationships
• Conversations establish trust
• Conversations determine value
• Conversations create influence
We are all familiar with John Maxwell’s quote; “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Influence is persuasion. Through productive conversations, opportunities emerge where individuals have a voice, and safety becomes a discussion rather than an order. In other words, our conversations determine if we sell safety or not!
The safety profession does an excellent job of focusing on teaching and training in technical subjects. Think about it; conferences, meetings, and seminars focus on the technical aspect of safety rather than the soft skills, like communication and leadership. I find this to be similar in many of the safety-related curriculums within colleges and universities. I think there needs to be a marriage between technical and soft skill courses to produce balanced professionals.
My focus for the past ten years has been teaching the safety profession through the soft skill of influence. Throughout my career, I have found that success comes through influence, and influence begins with conversations.
Listen, behaviors aren’t driven by policy and procedures, but rather by the individual’s free will. For instance, do you drive the speed limit simply because it’s the law? For most, the answer is no. You go the speed limit because the thought of a $200 ticket influences your decision to slow down. For those of you who are thinking I’m wrong- the next time you see an officer on the side of the road, do you hit the brakes whether you’re above the speed limit or not? Were you above the posted speed limit? The speed limit is not what motivates you to obey; rather, it’s the consequences that result from not adhering to the law. It’s in our human nature to do what we want and when we want to. Instead of focusing on obeying the law, use your professional influence to convince others that speed limits are of great consequence because it’s the safe way of driving.
How do you do that? In everything you do- whether it is parenting your children, interacting with employees, or governing over others, use conversations as a means to persuade people to buy-into your expectations. If conversations are organized the right way, then you will be able to sell safety.
Reading articles and learning how to have effective conversations is a great way to build a foundation to approach an intended audience. However, It’s all about taking action. I go back to my favorite saying, READY. FIRE. AIM. Once you know what needs to be done, do it, and make it better as you go.
The objective of our conversations should be to help people understand what we expect and why it is necessary. Persuade them to embrace our ideas, gain an understanding of who they are, and give them insight into who we are. Gain a clear picture of their needs, concerns, and frustrations.
To achieve these objectives, we must generate stimulating conversations by:
- ASKING DIAGNOSTIC QUESTIONS – Ask questions such as, “What are your frustrations when performing lockout/tag out? Why do you think your team is having a hard time adhering to the PPE policy? Do you have any suggestions about how we can make this process more efficient? I once heard it said, “ It’s like being a Doctor and asking the patient questions to diagnose the underlying issue. How can you treat the underlying problem if you don’t know what the real problem is?
- HELP RELIEVE THE PAIN -. Safety professionals are excellent at identifying problems, but not very good at problem-solving. Most of us tend to point out everything wrong but fail to advise how to solve the issue. By generating an effective conversation, you can help reduce or eliminate the problem. Likewise, you can help them gain a particular advantage or maybe even increase the desire to perform tasks safely. The only way to be effective in relieving pain is to understand the challenges the person faces. The way you sell safety is to be a “pain reliever” by helping solve problems through comfortable, two-sided conversations where issues and challenges are communicated. A conversation without action is invalid
- CREATE A PURPOSEFUL CONVERSATION – To effectively sell safety, we must generate conversations that have a purpose. Selling safety means we can effectively answer “why?” through our conversations. Make an effort to interpret the verbal and non-verbal aspects of each conversation. Your way of speaking, body language, and non-verbal actions determine if you are having a purposeful conversation or not. It’s not just a chat among friends or acquaintances. A sales conversation cannot be rushed. It is not an inquisition and it’s not impersonal. It’s a conversation that has the intent to change behavior.
“A conversation without action is invalid.”
WRAPPING IT UP
Conversations are not just words. Instead, they are used to achieve a connection, to build a relationship, create value, and establish trust. Give others a voice and allow their concerns to be heard. When purposeful conversations are generated, influence is increased, and you’re one step closer to selling safety!
Denis is an experienced Safety Professional with multi-industry experience. He is also an Executive Director at the John Maxwell Group, a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical principles and relevant influencing techniques to change employee behaviors and ultimately reduce and eliminate injuries. His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a passionate desire to become an effective leader.
You can contact Denis at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.