How People with High Emotional Intelligence Use the “Rule of 6” to Become Extraordinarily Persuasive
There is a saying in the army: “Check 6”.
It basically means: Don’t forget to look behind you. It originally comes from the idea of a pilot checking the six o’clock position, directly behind an airplane or bomber.
But you don’t need to be a veteran to adopt it. In fact, for people with high emotional intelligence, this phrase means something more.
It means getting into the habit of using six key communication tips, to make sure you don’t let emotions unnecessarily interfere with what you hope to achieve.
1. Check your language.
This is the first and easiest to adopt. In short, if you find yourself using phrases like this to start a key point you want to make, stop immediately:
- “It’s not hard…” (Suggests that anyone facing a complicated problem should just adopt your controversial solution.)
- “Can’t you just…” (suggesting that the problem the other person is facing isn’t serious at all, if he or she would just do what you want them to do. )
- “Look, I got it…” (After which people usually sum up a small part of another person’s position, most of them being the easiest part to undermine.)
Each of these phrases is designed to do one of two things: either make it seem like yours is the only reasonable position, or boost your self-esteem while putting the other person down.
If someone says them to you before suggesting a course of action, do you feel like you’ve been heard or fired? That’s why emotionally intelligent people check that they don’t use them.
2. Check your direction.
This one is easier to identify in retrospect than in the moment, so it may take some practice. In short, check if you are not falling into traps like these:
- Using phrases like “oh, that reminds me” to launch into unrelated points or stories under the guise of conversation.
- “I thought about closing my startup and trying something else.”
- “Reminds me: have you heard of Company X closing?”
- Catch you in a “one-upmanship contest,” where instead of responding to another person’s statement or points, you instead find yourself sharing similar, but bigger, anecdotes.
- “We lost power for a week.”
- “Really? We lost power for a month!”)
- Put yourself in the center of attention, when your goal should be to find out the other person’s wants and needs.
Philosophically, it’s all about figuring out where you want the conversation to go and whether your conversation structure is likely to get you there.
Emotionally, people understand that it’s the difference between using language that builds a parallel conversation, in which each side simply expresses opinions, or a convergent conversation, in which everyone listens, thinks and tries to find a way to come together. .
3. Check your goal.
Here’s an easy trap people fall into all the time: getting emotionally caught up in a strategic goal, so much that you lose sight of your overall goal.
- A business tries to sell a particular product to a particular type of customer, but fails to break through. Discouragement arises. But is the ultimate goal to sell this product? Or is it perhaps better to pivot and find another opportunity that works better?
- A parent wants to spend a nice day with his children. So they organize a nice day together, only to find that the children are not interested in the activity. Are they letting disappointment keep them from finding another way to spend time together?
- A student wants to get a great education and embark on a rewarding career. But, they are not accepted into their first choice university. Sure, that’s disappointing, but in the long run, are they allowing that rejection to stop them from finding other rewarding paths?
Actually, there’s another generic example that I like, which is basically when you want to convince someone of something and you succeed, but for some reason the resolution seems hollow.
Are you caught up in emotions or do you accept that you have accomplished what you set out to do?
4. Check the escape route.
Not your escape. The other person’s escape route.
In short, emotionally intelligent people recognize that you should find ways for others to save face when trying to convince them of something.
- Allow them to agree with you, even if it’s hard: “I have to admit, that’s not a completely terrible idea.”
- Or, even if it shows frustration: “If you let me speak, that’s what I was going to suggest!”
- Or else, just to save face. “I hope you understand that it took a lot of courage and hard work for us to try this other course of action first, even though it didn’t work out in the end.”
The goal is to allow the other person to back off or revert to your way of thinking, while giving them an emotional escape so they can agree without feeling defeated.
5. Check your impressions.
Remember that old quote: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
That’s true, but it’s also true that when you communicate an important point, you also communicate secondary impressions. So many things affect the likelihood (or not) that emotions will interfere with what you’re trying to accomplish:
There is your tone of voice. There is the moment of conversation.
There’s the matter of where and when you choose to have it (or, sometimes, when you’re obligated to have it.)
I have already mentioned here one of the best examples I have personally seen: when my accountant (who was one of my best friends long before he became a CPA) sent me a Bible by mail, then asked me to swear on it that I would not wait until the last minute to file my taxes in the future.
But things don’t have to be so dramatic. Emotionally intelligent people know how to check the environment and the impressions they make, whether they want to or not.
6. Check yourself.
This is the last point, and I will try to demonstrate myself in this article. In short, check that you do not say more than is necessary.
- Embrace the power of silence in conversation. (Other people will often rush to fill it.)
- Embrace the obligation to listen fully. (Otherwise, how can you really pretend to try to understand anyone?)
- And, embrace the ability to “take yes for an answer.” (When you win an argument, stop arguing.)
On that note, let’s just point out that of all the leadership growth tools that business leaders say they want to work on, emotional intelligence tops the list.
That’s why I’ve compiled a long list of simple tips you can use to improve emotional intelligence in my free e-book, 9 Smart Habits of People With High Emotional Intelligence.
And that’s why simple changes like the Check 6 rule can make a big difference in how you lead and whether other people are likely to follow.