An important skill for getting along with others is “versatility”. If we are versatile we can move freely from person to person, from one topic to another. We interact with many people and we find it constructive to be able to adapt, to be flexible.
Getting a good reputation for versatility means we find ways to get outside our comfort zones in our conversations.
To be versatile means knowing a lot about ourselves and paying a lot of attention to others. Let’s illustrate this with the challenge of influencing others to make a decision.
You may be comfortable with data, numbers, and the mysterious “bottom line”. Numbers are factual and when presented with a business initiative you want to be taken to the numbers. When you are satisfied that the numbers add up, then you may be interested in other variables – what others think of the idea, what impact the initiative may have on team morale, how committed to the initiative leaders are, etc?
When it comes to influencing others you may readily assume they too would be comfortable with numbers. Your business case, your “what’s in it for me?” is loaded with numbers, facts, figures, impact on the “bottom line”.
What if those whose attention you are trying to gain are anxious about numbers? What if they are more interested in the human impact of an initiative – the social acceptability of the project? Sums are not their comfort zone.
Those you want to influence want to hear a story and you give them data! You have probably given them a headache as well and little reason to pay attention to you.
You have gone fishing with the bait you like – numbers, and not the bait the fish was looking for – narratives. No bites, surprised?
Versatility means adapting your presentation to your audience. How might you adjust your next presentation, conversation to better appeal to your audience?