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Using Information to Develop Productive Relationships

How to Become an Expert
In any field, the ability to immediately connect with others through knowledge of a particular subject is vital to solidifying relationships, getting ideas across, and gaining trust. But using tricks and shortcuts to artificially produce this affect – such as peppering conversation with jargon or random facts – can seem transparent at best, and will often backfire … sometimes with disastrous results.

How to Become an Expert on Anything in Two Hours, written by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch sounds like something more akin to a con job. But it’s not about fooling people. It’s about connecting with people. Nobody can really be an “expert” in two hours. But anyone can learn to master information to the extent that they can establish trust and create a basis from which to go forward. There are specific techniques you can use to make information relevant to others; to use information to make a difference in other people’s lives. An expert, in this sense, can take specialized knowledge and give it context.

Greg Hartley is a former military interrogator. He presents here, basic communication skills that will help you to understand human nature, identify different types of people you might encounter and assess to what extent you must plan and prepare for those different types of people in order to present yourself as an expert. He explains:
In my world of interrogation, I use questions and tidbits of information to convince the source that I know enough to be taken seriously and to make him comfortable so that he will talk to me. I create an ally through the way I use information. In some cases, "ally" means nothing more than a common understanding that we're both soldiers and we're both professionals. I don't presume that I'm going to turn the source into a buddy, but I use information to establish common ground. If I know the same things he knows, then maybe I believe the same things he believes. That common ground gives me more credibility with him than if I came in yelling obscenities and threats. I use whatever facts and images I think will constantly remind him that he's part of the same thing that I am: a military outfit, a family, the human race. In this acute situation, I do what is takes—through a combination of planning and preparation and knowledge of human nature—to be an expert in his eyes.
The authors present five general information-sorting styles and approaches to interacting with people. Understanding how they work is important to gaining someone’s acceptance of you as an expert.

Technician: A detailed-oriented person who needs the facts. “If you are such a person, you place great emphasis on the source of information, and you could end up being your own biggest skeptic in trying to present expertise. If a person of this type is in your audience, one of his requirements for accepting you as he expert is going to be detail.”

Generalist: People of this type “absorb information about lots of subjects and show agility in quickly grasping correlations….The generalist understands things in terms of how they relate to one another better than she understands vast amounts of details about a specific area. If you are a generalist you have a natural edge as an expert….Remember that al of your details mean nothing to the generalist unless you can translate them into meaning.”

Storyteller: “The storyteller can create a bridge between the generalist and the technician without ever becoming either of them. The storyteller needs to tell stories that have a message that addresses questions squarely, allays concerns, and reminds the listener what is in it for him.”

Sponge: “Strongly affected by other people’s opinions and gullible about information, the sponge will easily accept someone’s expertise because of that person’s affiliation, among other reasons.” If you are a sponge, you need to make sure you properly vet your sources. “When you are dealing with people like this, you may create a tense situation when you challenge something that they believe to be true. And the facts may have little to do with their truth.”

Romantic: These people are “fanciful adventure seekers who are idealistic. Being affected more by the meaning of information than by the facts, romantics are prone to disregard the facts in favor of feelings. If you are a romantic, learn to home in on practical information in you research….When you see something that supports your belief, look past it to get more facts. If you are dealing with a romantic, try not to rain on his parade; instead, show him how to use the information you are offering to feed his picture of the world.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:45 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Communication



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