Using EQ to Get Your Point Across: Three Strategies for Gaining Buy-InFeb 17, 2023
Several years ago, or quite a few years ago now (I'm still coming to terms with my aging process!), I remember feeling frustrated behind my desk on a Friday afternoon, staring at my computer trying to write a plan to for buy-in from our strategic stakeholders.
There were no people in the corridors, and all I could think about was seeing my one-year-old son. Feeling guilty and torn between going home and risking being viewed as uncommitted to my work, I decided to go home. As you may have guessed, I have a tendency to overthink things!
My boss was the only person in the office. He was a man with a big vision and an ability to inspire and mobilize others, even late on a Friday afternoon. He was, and still is, a kind, caring leader. With great surprise and genuine interest, he looked at me and said, "Nadja, what's wrong with you? Why are you not at home with your family?"
I was flabbergasted by his response. Why didn't he see that I was here because of the work, trying to show how dedicated I am?
As a result, I blurted out that I felt I was expected to do so and that the workload was too much to handle. As he smiled and calmly spoke, he said the following, which hit me like a bolt of lightning: "We take our freedom for granted, Nadja. We must work to protect our freedoms of choice, speech, and life."
Then with a smile, he said, "I look forward to seeing you on Monday. Spend some time with your son."
I hadn't realized how painfully right he was until that moment. Since I was a child, I've been accustomed to a lot of freedom. I never worried about being invaded; I never worried whether my family would disappear or suffer from poverty because living in a conflict-stricken country.
What does this story have to do with communication and cyber resilience?
The cyber threat landscape has shifted significantly in a short amount of time. Cybercrimes are set to cost governments and organizations $10 trillion by 2025. But that's only the visible cost. Cyber threats have many layers—those above the water and those under the water that are invisible to the eye.
IT teams and cybersecurity experts are paddling like crazy under the water to prevent cyber breaches from amplifying and causing severe harm to businesses. There are many challenges in building and implementing mature cyber resilience strategies across people, processes, and technology. But a significant challenge remains the art of communication in receiving buy-in from stakeholders, starting from the Board of Directors who oversee governance and business risk to John Doe whose lack of cyber hygiene behavior can compromise information security.
Despite several studies pointing out that the human factor is a significant contributor to the risk of cyber breaches, investing in quick fixes and technology alone doesn't seem to reduce the growing threat of cybercrime. Cyber breach headlines keep popping up every day, but are statistics enough to foster transformation and become cyber resilient amidst digital disruptions?
At NATO, I used buy-in strategies to engage senior stakeholders. In NATO's largest Information and Communication Agency, I was responsible for ensuring information and data security was not an afterthought in political and military decision-making. That was my bread and butter, but now I'm trying to cut back on the bread, as the calories will keep piling up if I do not!
Understanding Others: The Importance of Listening Before Communicating
In order to effectively communicate and achieve buy-in strategies, it's essential to understand the importance of seeking to understand before being understood. Our belief systems, biases, and habitual ways of thinking shape our mental model of the world, and imposing our views on others can cause them to become defensive and unreceptive. Instead, we should listen without judgment, with curiosity, and try to find common ground.
When preparing for communication, it's also important to have a plan in place to ensure success. Similar to the military going into battle with a plan, it's essential to have a structured approach for communication. This can be achieved by framing discussions around three key questions: what does success look like, what are the three key messages, and what are the blind spots.
Strategic Communication: Structuring Your Message for Successful Outcomes
To help structure communication and avoid misunderstandings, I like to use the LSD technique - no, not the substance, but the technique of Listening, Summarizing, and Deepening the Understanding. By asking open-ended questions and actively listening, we can gain a deeper understanding of the other person's perspective and reduce the risk of miscommunication. Additionally, it's important to have a clear template in place before entering into a discussion.
The template included three sections: defining success, identifying the top three key messages, and considering potential blind spots. This helps ensure that discussions stay focused and productive, especially when time is limited. With clear communication, supported by data, experience, and vision, you can transform barriers into building blocks towards achieving successful outcomes.
Communicate Effectively with the LSD Technique
You might be surprised to learn that the LSD technique I'm referring to has nothing to do with the psychedelic drug. Instead, it stands for Listening, Summarizing, and Deepening the Understanding.
To truly listen to someone, it's important to focus on them first. By reading between the lines and being present, we can enhance our understanding and make the other person feel more comfortable.
When we summarize what we've heard, it's important to ask open-ended questions to go deeper into the conversation and gain a clearer understanding. This helps us avoid misunderstandings and errors in the future.
Deepening our understanding from a place of curiosity and possibility allows us to move beyond our biases and those of others. This is crucial for changing perspectives and building a healthier security culture.
Neuroplasticity has proven that our mindsets can change, which means that it's possible to alter someone's perspective within their existing world map without resorting to fear tactics. Understanding the broader implications of cyber threats across societies is also essential for achieving this goal. I hope that this article has helped you get started.
In conclusion, effective communication is essential in today's fast-paced world. By applying the LSD technique and structuring your communication around the key questions of success, key messages, and blind spots, you can build trust and achieve successful outcomes. Remember to approach every conversation with an open mind and a willingness to understand the other person's perspective.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about buy-in strategies and effective communication, don't hesitate to connect with me. I look forward to explore how I can help you develop effective stakeholder's buy in strategies!