How versatile is your influencing and communication? How many different techniques including drip feeding are you willing to try to achieve better outcomes?
I’d like to deal with one of those today, which I have called “drip feeding”. It is another concept I frequently share with my executive coaching clients.
One of the presuppositions of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is the “Law of Requisite Variety” which suggests that “the person or system with the greatest behavioral flexibility will control the system / conversation outcomes”.
In our busy world today everything seems to have become more short term: “I want it now” focused. However, sometimes the shortest way to an outcome isn’t necessarily the best approach. Sometimes we need to lay a longer term plan to the end outcome we strive for; to plan a path with multiple steps that will get us there.
As the term may suggest, drip feeding is a subtle, small steps approach to an end game. One of my clients recently referred to it as “planting seeds”. Both imply the nurturing of an idea through to a desired result. In financial terms drip feeding can be compared to the continuous, consistent saving of a small amount over a long period of time adding up to a very large sum of money in the end because of the compound growth factor.
We have probably all experienced the need to plan and more carefully execute the delivery of a sensitive message, right? You know, one where we perhaps expect the listener to balk at or to react badly to. Diplomacy suggests that a more “softly, softly” approach will work better than “coming right out with it”. So introducing the topic slowly and carefully, little by little could be one of those, couldn’t it? Preparing the soil; making it fertile so to speak for the impending message. Making sure that the right level of rapport is in existence first.
The Drip Feeding Approach
What I mean by drip feeding is the introduction of the topic in small, orchestrated, seemingly unrelated steps or chunks over a period of time; leaving the other persons to digest each little piece of information on its own, without necessarily appreciating the whole picture (yet). Whilst I appreciate this may be misconstrued as blatant political behaviour, this approach can be applied very successfully in specific situations where you simply have to navigate through different methods and approaches to ensure your initiative passes through all possible obstacles, gains all the required support at the right times and through the right stakeholders until it reaches its intended goal or outcome, no matter how long a period that might take.
Maybe the use of carefully selected metaphors will also work. That way, our communication isn’t directly to the point, but uses the character in the story to “make our point for us” and let the listener adopt it by association.
Of course drip feeding needs to be planned and executed very carefully, so it doesn’t backfire on us. Expect that those you are dealing with are intelligent people that will quickly see through anything contrived.
Like my blog: Planning in scenarios looks at picturing the desired end state and then planning, assessing and mitigating likely obstacles or options as well as selecting the appropriate steps to get there, this does much the same, as if planning a chess move. Perhaps the difference might be that such initiatives are largely strategic, usually have a more substantial scale of outcome they intend to achieve and thus run over a much longer period of time to reach their successful conclusion.
10 Key Considerations for Effective Drip Feeding
I have learned there are a few key considerations in this planning:
- To understand who my audience is – those actively involved and those affected.
- Who are the critical stakeholders (differentiating those likely to be for and against) and how might they need to be informed differently to one another to suit my approach?
- Who are the influencers (with the “silent power”) amongst them that I can leverage to best further my selected messages or end outcome?
- What elements or “snippets” of information left with the right people would have the smartest effect for me?
- When might be the best timing to introduce them?
- And the right sequence?
- What dependencies might need to be considered?
- Who is likely to “spread my word”?
- What do I want them to do with it, when and with or through whom?
- What opposition might I expect plus what and who can I best leverage to help overcome it?
And so we plan out a range of steps, players and scenarios by which we “engineer” a plot that will ultimately lead to the outcome we want to achieve, “leading the process from behind” to our intended result. Of course, if you have been following my blogs, you will no doubt appreciate that preparation is the key to successful outcome achievement. And this technique is just what I do best and most for and with my clients: planning and preparing our outcomes.
I teach my clients to always have a few key recent “snippets” of achievements or facts about their work and successes that they can “drop” when in contact with key individuals in their company or network – those that have Presence. The ones that will want to use this information to further their agenda’s and enhance their visibility or standing by being able to tell others of note: “have you heard…?” thereby furthering your agenda for you in places or rooms you might not be able to get into (yet).
Selective Name Dropping Works
Whilst I avoid “name dropping” purely from an ego perspective, I do selectively use it in the appropriate situations whereby dropping a name can add credibility to my cause by creating the right associations in my listeners’ mind.
So What Next?
So if you are planning an outcome that is important to you, why not engage in some “behavioural flexibility” in your communication and look at applying the “drip feeding” approach if it lends itself to helping you achieve more likely or a better end result?
And depending on its magnitude, visibility or risk potential what if you chose to work with an unbiased third party thinking partner? One that can objectively challenge your thinking? One that from their own personal executive experience as well as that gained from coaching hundreds of business clients can add so many more options and perspectives to your process? So that you cannot but plan to design and implement the very best possible drip feeding process that will assure the very best outcome you could have imagined? What if you could? Go on, contact me and Let’s Talk Coaching.