Good Morning Hamburg
I have recently returned from delivering trainings to Google executives in the beautiful city of Hamburg.
I have been to Hamburg several times before but this time I got there a lot faster, because, as soon as we landed, the Lufthansa pilot taxied the plane faster than Michael Schumacher on his way down an autobahn after Claudia Schiffer had made him a promise. Having flown many hundreds of time all over the world, I have never had an experience like it. Could it be possible that German airports are like German autobahns and have no speed limits?
I can't comment on the driving speed of Google's German executives - but they certainly come equipped with moral brakes.
During the pitching and rapport elements of the training session, we started to discuss smart psychological ways to sway people towards liking you and your point of view. One of the attendees asked an interesting question about whether it was morally acceptable to be doing this kind of “manipulation”. I put forward the idea that manipulation is a very pejorative word and it can skew the way people think about human interaction. If we use the words persuasion or influence, it does not have the same kind of negative resonance. What followed was a very revealing discussion about the power of language but more importantly whether we should choose to avoid improving our effective communication for the fear of manipulating.
I explained my theory that even by saying ‘Good Morning’ to someone, we are trying to influence. Maybe to get the person to think we are polite and therefore more likable. Of course, all communication is influence and personally, I feel we should all be aware of how to do it as elegantly as possible. However, wherever I lecture or train, I always make it very clear that we should only influence with integrity. We all know that the power of persuasion in the wrong hands (fill in your ‘favourite’ dictator’ here) can have horrific consequences, so it is incumbent on us to only use these very powerful persuasion tools for good.
It was interesting that the mood of the questioner quickly changed when I reminded the group that Google’s own informal corporate motto was ‘Don’t be evil’.
Ultimately, I believe that it is only the people with the right intentions who can really benefit from the techniques that I teach, and your morals and ethics will always determine your results.