Most business books are social science books. Sometimes they are given the “self help” label, and while business books are often about growing or evolving the self, they are more often about relationships, and how to work with other people to benefit both parties, whether it is manager-to-employee, marketer-to-client, or peer-to-peer. While social science is technically concerned with individual relationships in a society, it isn’t too far of a reach to say that organizations are their own small society. And people who work better together simply get more done.
Adversaries into Allies is about mastering one specific area of success. It’s one that has proven itself again and again to be the determining factor between the average or reasonably successful person and the one who is able to accomplish great and significant levels of achievement. And that is people skills.
Bob Burg is an expert on how to improve those relationships–yes, by improving yourself–through small attitudinal and behavioral adjustments. In the bestselling The Go-Giver, which Burg co-authored with John David Mann, the overarching thesis is that if you embrace a role as giver, you’ll get a whole lot back.
In this new book, Burg drills down into greater detail regarding how we can become Ultimate Influencers (without resorting to Machiavellian machinations.) The implication of the title is that business relationships can be particularly fraught with defensiveness, selfishness, and animosity. Instead of being content with setting yourself against adversaries, it’s far more productive to “see adversaries as our partners in growth and success–and as people we can turn into allies for mutual gain.”
These five rules will help guide all of your interactions with people, those on your side…or on the other side.
1. Control your own emotions
2. Understand the clash of belief systems
3. Acknowledge their ego
4. Set the proper frame
5. Communicate with tact and empathy
Concerned you will become a master manipulator? Burg is clear on this.
I’m often asked to explain the difference between persuasion and manipulation. Actually it tends to take more the form of a challenge, as in, “Bob, aren’t persuasion and manipulation the same thing?”
And it’s a good, legitimate question. Persuasion and manipulation are certainly cousins, and to deny that is to deny reality. In both cases, you are attempting to move an individual or group of individuals to think or do something they would presumable not think or do without your influence.
The key difference, then, is that manipulation is about obtaining control over others, and using negativity to do it. Persuasion is all about influence guided by doing things in the ‘best interest’ of others.
As with all of Bob Burg’s books, there is a very simple underlying theme: be a good person. But that is often difficult to put into practice because of the heavy weight of demands on us each day, and how challenging it can be to relate to and relate with other people who also are just trying to make their way through. Burg’s writing is infused with positivity and even though you are learning methods of gaining influence throughout the book, you’ll also gain a greater appreciation of the fact that we are all in this–whether it is society as a whole, your organization, or your family–together.