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How to communicate more empathetically with TIPS? (Part 2)

In part 1 of this two article episode, I made a case for striving to communicate with greater empathy in business and everyday life. When we communicate more empathetically, we open people’s hearts and minds to a new idea, an inspiring new vision, a new product, or another suggestion of a meaningful course of action. Thereby, we may use the AIDA model (attention, interest, desire, action) to think about the different phases of empathetic communication.

But how can we find out how to best pitch an idea or message to connect to and convince another person of its value? We can fall back on the four base orientations (Theories, Ideas, People, and Systems) of TIPS, Thinkergy’s innovator profiling system. If we know or can make an intuitive guess about which of the four TIPS bases energizes a person’s convictions and actions, we can adjust our communication accordingly.

Two weeks ago, part 1 ended with a discussion on how to better relate to, connect with, and convince those uber-rational, knowledgeable, and truth-seeking “T people” whom you find at the Theories base. In today’s second and final part, you’ll learn how you can similarly communicate with greater empathy with those people at the Ideas-, People- and Systems-base. Also, I confide to you how I acquired the empathetic communication tips on how to better convince people at each of the four TIPS bases.

How to communicate more empathetically with “I-People” at the Ideas-base?

Approach and attention:  I-People are pretty informal and casual, so it’s comparatively easy to approach them provided you do this at the right time. Connect with them in the mid to late afternoon or early evening when they have completed their main creative work for the day and are open for fresh inspiration. The ideal way to grab the attention of an I-person is to take notice of what’s “individual” about them. I-People tend to be highly individualized and like to stand out from the crowd, so compliment them on an extravagant fashion accessory or a colorful piece of clothing that they use to flag their originality.

Interest: At first, engage I-People in small talk about the latest trends in technologies, inventions, fashions, lifestyles, and traveling. Ask them about these trends and the ‘future’, then listen to their viewpoints and ideas and expand on them by sharing our opinion. Also, share information about new toys, gadgets, apps, tools or games with them, and ask them about their hobbies. 

Desire: After you’ve gained an I-Person’s recognition as a worthy fellow-avant-gardist, it’s time to get down to business. Briefly explain what’s your challenge and related goal, and share the essential information. Then, continue by sharing your ideas or your vision of a better future. Make your pitch lively and energetic, and communicate using lots of visuals and fewer words. Finally, invite the I-people to contribute additional ideas to expand on your idea or vision. Open the door for them to showcase their creativity. Show them how much you appreciate their ideas, and treat them like a creativity ‘guru’ to keep them energized.

Action: Convince I-People of your vision and persuade them to agree to support you or buy into your idea. Sell them the inspiration and the “product of the product”, the higher-order value of your idea. (For example, making humanity multi-planetary is the higher-order value behind Elon Musk’s vision of humans settling down on Mars. Musk believes pursuing this goal is essential to ensure humanity’s continuance as a species.) Emphasize the idea of “doing it together,” ask how to get started quickly, and support their ideas. Then, let them take action to take the first step and give them the freedom to do as they think is appropriate.

How to communicate more empathetically with “P-People” at the People-base?

Approach and attention: P-people are super-social, so they’re easy to approach almost anytime. If you don’t yet know them well, then first contact and befriend them on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, or approach them on a networking event. Then, invite them for an informal face-to-face meeting over coffee or lunch, and build a good relationship with them first and become familiar with other people in their work team or key social groups. Later on, regularly hangout together and buy and bring snacks and sweets when you meet. 

Interest: Be talkative and casual when you meet with P-people. Talk about current affairs, fashion and lifestyle topics, and ask them about their hobbies, family and friends, and other colleagues in their team. If possible, include humor and jokes to your communication. 

Desire: Share your view of a challenge that society, their community, or their business faces right now. Describe the situation, the challenge, and what we ideally want to achieve in a simple way. Speak with sincerity and honesty to them. Then, ask them to share their opinion on the issue. Suggest to brainstorm more ideas on how to address the issue together, and suggest your main idea alongside others while complimenting their ideas. Later on, come back to your main idea that you want them to embrace, then ask them for advice. Highlight the benefits of your idea to society, a community, or their business, and how you’d like to make this idea happen together. 

Action: Show them that the idea and the related activities are not challenging to do. Suggest to implement the idea together and to jointly make it successfully. Then, take joint action and thank them for their help. After finishing the work, take them for drinks and hang-out together to celebrate the successful completion of the joint project.

How to communicate more empathetically with “S-People” at the Systems-base?

Approach and attention: Systems-people are formal and proper in their business conduct, so make an official appointment and create an agenda for an important meeting with them that you share in advance. If you call them by phone, arrange a time to talk or ask them if it’s convenient for them to talk now. Be organized and timely in your communications with S-people, and talk with clear purpose. 

Interest: Get them talking first. Ask them: “What concerns you?” to learn more about their current issues and concerns. Then, share with them your idea on how you may help them alleviate their pains. Prepare specific information and a clear requirement for them that support your view. Be aware that S-people love to say “no” to ideas and find many reasons as to why not to do new things, and deal with any critical remarks from them in a positive, assertive way and not change anything

Desire: Explain what is the situation that you want to help them to address proactively. Be direct and to the point. To counter their tendency to wait until the last minute before making a change, ask them the question: “What happens if you continue to do nothing?” Appeal to their sense for security and mitigating risks. 

Action:  When you make a case to S-people, don’t leave room for imagination (they’re not into this). Prepare the pertinent facts, names, and evidence that supports your idea. Then, take the time to explain step-by-step what you want to do with them, thereby being as detailed and explicative as possible. Provide all missing & complete information like timeline, objective, etc., so they can see what’s it like and like and reasonable for them. Set a timeline and specify expected the results. Then, let them plan how to proceed best and take action by themselves. Most importantly, show them how your idea positively affects the bottom line, how it improves ROI, or how it increases efficiency. By providing detailed information, you can convince them that following your suggested course of action is a reasonable, feasible, and safe thing that they should do.

Conclusion: Tune into the right frequency to empathetically broadcast your call to action

How did I collect the information on how we may communicate with greater empathy with people from each TIPS base? This is based on the collective feedback of those people who populate each base on how they wish to be talked to and convinced of following a suggestion of taking a certain meaningful course of action. Let me explain.

One of the many games and exercises we play with delegates attending one of our TIPS Innovation Profiling workshops is “The TIPS Empathy Game”. Thereby, we split the delegates into four “base teams” based on their dominant TIPS base. Then, using the AIDA questions as a guiding reference, each TIPS ‘base team” outlines how they intend to empathetically relate to the people from the other bases. Moreover, they also specify how to best approach, communicate with, and convince them. Finally, we go through each TIPS base and see how close the other teams meet the preferred communication needs that each base team outlined for themselves. For each presentation round, the “real base team” decides which of the other teams is closest to their preferred communication patterns and thus becomes its “Base Babe” (and earns points).

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© Dr. Detlef Reis 2019