Why Numbers Alone Don’t “Move People”

3 minute read

Metrics are critical for business. They indicate how your company is performing. They drive your priorities, operations, goals, and attention. And they inform decisions big and small every single day—though numbers alone do not move people. Emotion about the numbers is what moves people—what actually influences their decisions.

Decision Making and Emotions

Time and again, business leaders come to their coaching sessions incredibly frustrated that they aren’t getting the decisions or responses they’re counting on from others. They’re exasperated and a bit pissed that they put hours into gathering the data, arranging all the numbers into a slick slide deck, even expressing great urgency during their presentation, only to walk away empty-handed. No decision. No change or action. They didn’t secure the budget their department requires to meet the business plan, or they didn’t get the involvement or buy-in they’re relying on from their peers.

If (or when) you’ve had similar experiences, the problem is you didn’t evoke enough emotion in the other people. When people are operating out of habit, they’re in Autopilot and have little to no Physical, Mental or Emotional Energy in the moment. Meaning they’re hypoaware (sometimes oblivious), because they’re thinking, speaking, feeling, etc. habitually, rather than intentionally.

When you want to influence decisions or behavior in other people, it’s imperative to move them out of Autopilot, up into their Performance Zone.

When you prompt an increase in their Mental and Emotional energy, they move up towards, then into their Personal Performance Zone. This is where people become aware. As you increase intensity further, they go from aware to intentional to engaged to deliberately active, then finally reach their Threshold of Activation*. This is when they purposefully Decide/Buy/Take action.

Painting a Picture That Triggers Emotion

Now that you know people will not “buy what you’re selling” unless you affect an increased level of Physical, Mental, and Emotional Energy, how do you do it? One effective way is to tell a better story about the numbers. We call it Painting a Colorful Picture.

What pictures do people have in their minds when you’re sharing the meaning of the numbers?

Often, highly experienced leaders take for granted their personal knowledge, experience, and insights. On top of that, they assume that others “know what I know” and that is rarely the case. What happens when you assume the numbers mean the same thing to others as they do to you? A major disconnect and a lot of aggravation.

It’s essential that you begin translating the numbers into a meaningful story that triggers a productive level of emotion. Painting a Colorful Picture is a powerful way to do that. It’s also an attractive way to educate others, which is very helpful when you want them to support your idea/proposal/solution.

If you recognize you’ve been over-relying on the numbers, you’ve identified one of your Autopilot habits that is working against you. Now it’s time to get back into your Performance Zone. We’ve helped thousands of leaders like you learn how to get past the numbers and supercharge their influence.

Grab some time on our calendar and Let’s Talk!

*Threshold of Activation is sourced from T Falcon Napier at https://www.productivetension.com/

Wingspan Performance® partners with leaders around the world to strengthen their behavioral performance and communication. Our approach centers on creating more intentional outcomes by developing healthy behavior systems, more productive interactions, and more meaningful relationships.