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Taking baby steps to get your way


We're all happier when we're getting our way - one of the universal principles. Learn about the "OK Zone" and how to use it to your advantage.

The OK Zone was developed by psychologists Muzafer Sherif and Carl Hovland. They referred to it as the "latitude of acceptance" - now commonly known as the OK Zone. Harvard Business Review suggests finding someone's OK Zone and working from there.

The OK Zone is our comfort zone of beliefs. As long as a new concept being presented is close to a long-held belief, we have a tendency to be more agreeable. Other factors are also involved, but operating within someone's OK Zone greatly improves your odds of success in getting your way. Most of us become firmly entrenched in our belief systems, so when a new idea is being presented we have a tendency to reject it if it's not close to our personal beliefs. If what's being presented is too far outside our OK Zone we will not only lose interest, but actively argue against it.

Instead of a frontal attack, patiently explore what makes someone "tick." Understanding them will get you where you want to be faster than by going the direct and forceful route. You'll also garner much better buy-in if they will see your idea as an extension of their own long-held beliefs.

The best way to get what you want is to spend a little time learning more about the person you wish to get on-board with your idea/concept. Do a little exploring and listen to their responses. Ask open-ended questions to get the prospect to tell you their beliefs. Take a few minutes to get to know the person. Ask a few general questions to establish common ground, while throwing out the occasional pointed question to help you better define their OK Zone. With a little practice you can easily determine someone's OK Zone on any subject. This pays huge dividends in the long run by not only getting your way, but doing so with ease.

Now that you have this information, begin moving forward in baby steps. Apply a little lateral thinking and customize your presentation to adequately address their issues/concerns. Provide incremental bits of information that slowly stretches their zone. Get their buy-in as you move forward to reinforce their acceptance with this new information/position. Remember to anchor any new information back to already held beliefs. This demonstrates you've been paying attention and further reinforces their beliefs. This "exploring process" helps you determine their OK Zone and then use this information to your advantage.

While it can be difficult to shift someone's perspective to your point of view, it's not impossible. It depends a lot on their mind-frame at that moment, so choose your time wisely and stack the cards in your favor. Be patient and come back at a better time. By exploring their OK Zone you will not only learn more about them, they will begin to see you as an ally because you're taking time to establish a relationship.

Glenn Bott of Arvada is enthusiastic about life and everything he does! He speaks and consults on consciously creating your powerful story to live the life you want. He shares what he learned by successfully reinventing himself after recovering from a severe brain injury.

Glenn Bott


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