Getting What You Want With Super-Persistence and Friendly Stalking

dog_with_boneThe word “stalking” has gotten a bad rap.

In recent years, we’ve become more aware of sexual predators and have used that word to describe their behavior.

But when my friend and colleague Alison Kear says she’s going to stalk someone, she says it with a wry grin and good humor.

And you know she’s up to good rather than no-good.

Over the Top “Super” Persistence

What Alison means by “stalking” is extreme persistence. She’s going to put herself right under someone’s nose so they’ve got to pay attention.

I’m writing this from Anchorage, Alaska, where yesterday, I had a chance to hear Alison describe a recent bit of stalking.

She was trying to get some help for a young woman who needed more than her organization could provide. She called a case worker at an agency that could help but got rebuffed — summarily dismissed. “We can’t help you now.”

So Alison put her stalking skills into action.

Super-Persistence in Action: Calling Every 15 Minutes

“I’m going to call you every 15 minutes until you connect me with your manager,” Alison told the woman on the phone. “We’ve got a problem that needs to be solved today.”

And true to her word, Alison set a timer and every 15 minutes she placed a call. After two and a half hours — yes, that’s six calls later — the woman connected Alison to her supervisor and they found a solution to the problem.

3 Things to Remember About Friendly Stalking

Here are three key things to remember if you try this kind of friendly stalking approach.

1. Don’t get angry.

Don’t yell or raise your voice. Just put yourself in super-persistence mode.

2. Have a clear stalking plan.

Let the person you’re pushing know exactly what you’re going to do to achieve your result and then do it.

3. Be light hearted.

A touch of humor is likely to get you farther than irritation.  I can imagine Alison calling the woman for the 5th time and saying something like, “Hey, Kathy. Yup, it’s me again. Have you had a chance to talk to your supervisor yet? No? Well then, I’ll call back in 15.”

Until finally, Kathy figures she’d better get ahold of her supervisor or Alison is likely to keep calling through the day and into the night.

Why Super-Persistence Works

Here’s what’s happening when you’re the target of Alison’s stalking.

You start in the “No” mode. “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that! Not interested. No.” You get a bit irritated when she doesn’t say “okay” to your “no” and just go away.

But then, when Alison comes back a second and third time, always polite but insistent, something shifts in you. You start thinking that perhaps there’s a good reason for someone to be sooo very persistent. Super-persistent.

Then you get curious.

Once You’re Curious, The Tables Have Turned

What, you wonder, is so important that this lady keeps on pushing you long after you expected her to go away?

So you start asking questions. And the more you find out, the more you want to help.

Bingo! The question has shifted from whether you will help to how.

An Added Benefit of Being Super-Persistent

When you build a reputation for being super-persistent about things that are important, people who know you stop saying “no.”

It’s just plain old easier for them to do what you want them to do when you ask the first time! 🙂

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Practice a bit of Friendly Stalking

The next time you’ve got something important you want to make happen, try a bit of super-persistent friendly stalking. Simply set your sites on the goal and figure out how to keep on pushing.

Whether you make a call to the person in charge every 15 minutes or write an email every day for month or camp outside the person’s door so you can catch him on the way to the john, it doesn’t much matter. What matters is that you make yourself present until the person who can help gets curious about why what you want is so important. There’s your opening.

Can you think of a time when you were super-persistent? What’s worked and what hasn’t? Share your thoughts in the comments.