You Da Man!

 “You da man!” is a familiar phrase for many sports fans. It seems like we used to hear it all the time after Tiger Woods hit a big tee shot. What you might not know is where that phrase may have come from and that it has nothing to do with hitting a tee shot or sports.
During a coaching conversation I had not too long ago, my “coachee” shared some frustration as he tried some upward coaching with the boss. It seemed as though the boss had a blind spot in a particular area. Let’s face it; sometimes people just can’t see what is so clear to everyone else.
A strategy I suggested was to share a story that would allow the coachee to turn the tables and arrest the boss’s attention. My idea came from a passage in the Bible in which the prophet Nathan did this with King David. Here’s the reference I was thinking about:
The Lord sent Nathan (the prophet) to David (the king). When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.”
David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’
Ouch! Do you see what Nathan did there? He used a compelling story to hook David. Then he asked David what should be done with the rich man who stole from the poor man. After David gave his answer and Nathan basically said, “The story is about you! You had everything and took another man’s wife after having him killed.” David had no wiggle room because he’d already pronounced a verdict.
In the field of persuasion we often talk about the principle of consistency which tells us people feel internal psychological pressure to act in a manner that’s consistent with what they’ve said or done in the past. Once David laid down the law, so to speak, and then realized the story was an analogy about him, his eyes were opened to what he had done.
This approach can be applied to coaching or any other situation in which someone might have a blind spot. Perhaps using a compelling story or analogy to make your point can get the other person to view their own situation in a way they never have before. If you paint a good picture it’s almost like saying, “Let’s watch this video so you can see how you really come across.” Before stating your version of, “You da man,” the key is to ask the other person to tell you what they think because in doing so you engage consistency.
Will everyone change? No, but as I’ve shared before, persuasion is not a magic wand that gets you everything you want. But, when used ethically and properly tapping into the various principles of influence, it will help you hear “Yes!” more often. I confidently assert that because the science tells us so and because I’ve seen it play out personally and professionally.
Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
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