My last day in London, I was walking down the street, and I pulled out my phone to snap a pic of the scene to sketch later.
“Hey! You can’t take a picture of me!” I heard someone yell.
I kept walking. I hadn’t actually noticed any people in the frame I shot, so they couldn’t be talking to me, could they?
Maybe they’d leave me alone if I ignored them.
Nope. The voice quickly morphed into a teenage boy and his three buddies, all (oddly) smeared with Halloween face paint and carrying trick-or-treat buckets. (Odd because it was October 26th.)
“You can’t take a picture of me!” the kid yelled in my face.
That kid was like a dog with a bone: he would not let it go.
No matter how much I explained that I hadn’t taken a photo of him — I’d taken a photo of the street — he, along with his three cousins/friends, kept yelling at me that I had no right to take his picture.
Fine. I held out my phone, and opened the Photos app to display the picture in question.
“Is this you?” I asked.
“Yes!” he cried.
Holding the phone so he could see it, I deleted the photo, thinking this would solve the problem.
But no such luck. The kid and his posse were now all yelling at me that it was still in my Recently Deleted photos!
Oh, for goodness sake…
At this point I actually needed the kid’s help to delete the image from Recently Deleted, because I didn’t even know that part of my phone existed! 🙄
Again, once the photo was finally fully deleted, you might think that the problem would now be solved, and everyone could go on our merry ways.
The kids continued to dog me for a half a block or so, spraying me with Silly String and threatening to “hit me” if I tried to take pictures of any of them again!
Oh. My. God. 🙄
And a few minutes after that, when I thought I’d finally left this unpleasant chapter behind, they came running up at me again, bringing along an older (though still much younger than me) woman I guessed must be a mother or aunt, who also started yelling at me and insisting I show her my phone to prove I didn’t have the offending photo in my Recently Deleteds anymore.
“Look,” I said, “I appreciate that you don’t want your photos taken. You asked me to delete a photo off my phone, and I honored your request. I have no interest in taking pictures of any of you, and I’ve removed the one photo I inadvertently took. I don’t know what else you want from me!”
I confess I quite lost my temper.
I may have used an expletive.
It put me in a very cross mood for the rest of my walk back to the hotel (which was twice as long as it should have been, thanks to bad navigation from Apple Maps… grrrr…)
The whole incident got me thinking, though.
While the kid did achieve his ends, and so in that sense you could say his communication was influential, was he truly communicating for influence?
I’d suggest that there are other ways he could have achieved his goal that would not have left a tourist with a bad taste in her mouth.
(I mean, really, wars have been fought over incidents like that one…)
Influence is not the same thing as intimidation and strong-arming.
That kid had an opportunity to build a (positively) memorable connection with a visitor to his country. Instead? He left a visitor with very unpleasant memories.
How might he have gotten his desired outcome (no photo on my phone) without making me feel like I wanted to hit something?
This happens to be phase 1 of my Winning Presenter Process™, because the very first thing we need to do, in order to engage with any audience — whether 1:1, or a group.
Build rapport. Empathize with your audience. Validate their experience and context.
In other words, use stories and analogies to create bridges with your audience’s experience.
And finally, CONVERT.
Identify your audience’s values, and leverage and commonalities you have, in order to drive your message home.
These are all the kinds of skills I’ll be teaching folks from a creative agency over the next couple of weeks, to help them connect better with clients and present more creatively, all in order to win business faster.
All using my play-based, active-learning F.U.N. Method™.
And shortly after that I’ll be using many of the same activities with a team of high-level researchers in a global social media company everyone loves to hate, in my Communicating for Influence flagship program.
I love leading these sessions, because they make such a difference in people’s lives — both at work, and in the rest of their lives, too.
In fact, that London kid and his posse could use some of my classes!
It’s a shame, really. If the kid had tried to connect with me, rather than yelling and threatening, who knows what kind of a friendship might have blossomed out of that encounter?
It certainly would have been a more pleasant experience on my last day in London.
If you’d like me to help your team break through a place they’re stuck so they can blast forward / make HUGE progress (and feel energized in their newly discovered capabilities), let’s talk.
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