Understanding Someone Else’s Point of View
Monday, April 29, 2013

In a recent HBR blog post, “How to Really Understand Someone Else’s Point of View,” authors Mark Goulston and John Ullmen contend that influential people “strive for genuine buy in and commitment — they don't rely on compliance techniques that only secure short-term persuasion.”


The two interviewed over 100 highly respected influences across many different industries and organizations for their new book, Real influence: Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In. They found that for real influence, leaders need to be able to go from their “here” to the “there” of others. Here’s how:

  1. Situational Awareness: Show that You Get "It." Show that you understand the opportunities and challenges your conversational counterpart is facing. Offer ideas that work in the person's “there.”
  2. Personal Awareness: You Get "Them." Show that you understand his or her strengths, weaknesses, goals, hopes, priorities, needs, limitations, fears, and concerns. In addition, you demonstrate that you're willing to connect with them on a personal level.
  3. Solution Awareness: You Get Their Path to Progress. Show people a positive path that enables them to make progress on their own terms. Give them options and alternatives that empower them. Based on your understanding of their situation and what's at stake for them personally, offer possibilities for making things better — and help them think more clearly, feel better, and act smarter.

For more advice and examples, read the complete blog post.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

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