8 DO’s and 7 DON’T’s in The Art of Persuasion (aka Getting My Way!)
Think about how often in life you try to explain your opinion on something and/or try to get someone to see a different perspective. Whether it’s a customer service agent you are trying to convince to make an exception, a meeting in which you are attempting to be heard, a political position you are explaining to a friend (soon to be former friend if you take it too far!), or a younger person you are trying to help see something more clearly, I would argue the vast majority of us attempt this multiple times daily. If I could tell you that a few simple things to do or not to do could greatly increase your ability to persuade and influence others—and thus more often get your way—would you be interested? Then keep reading.
But let me set the stage first. We all know the old story about how our parents had to walk to school…in the rain…and snow…uphill…both ways!! Well that’s my story with my job as a corporate consultant/coach. I didn’t have a background in psychology. I wasn’t a counselor. I wasn’t formally trained as an apprentice. I wasn’t given outlines to follow. I just had a tool, our Flippen 360 Profile, that had truth about people in it, and I had one hour to get a given client to embrace that truth.
Thousands of hour-long sessions later, I’ve learned a lot the hard way! And much of it boils down to this: the ability to anticipate and disarm skeptics. Skeptics are great at exposing ways you may oversimplify something, use a trigger phrase, or overemphasize a certain point. I wouldn’t say that a majority of people are skeptics, in fact I would say that the extreme skeptics would be 10 percent or less of the usual population, but with a hot-button subject, even the most agreeable person can become a skeptic.
So be ready for skeptics, but also realize that with many topics or decisions a majority of people do not need a series of complex techniques to disarm them. That should be a welcomed relief so take a relaxing breath. On the other hand, don’t breathe too easy otherwise you’ll allow those more agreeable people to keep you from getting better at persuading. The agreeable types aren’t teaching you anything or stretching you—they aren’t making you better.
To strengthen your persuasion muscles, here are the 15 things I’ve found that are crucial: (p.s.—you can take any of these too far or do any of them poorly!)
1. DO Build the Relationship (Are you likeable? Have you built a connection? Would I enjoy talking to you about the topic? Can you stop and be thankful for the other person?)
2. DO See and Voice Both Sides (Point out objections before they do, Anticipate and disarm skeptics, Really get in their shoes, Don’t oversimplify the issue/problem/question, Realize that in most cases a lot of smart people have the opposite position, “I see an interesting balance of challenges here…”)
3. DO Validate Their Points / Feelings (People don’t move unless they feel understood, Repeat what you hear, No one likes feeling stupid)
4. DO Adapt Your Style To Your Audience (Fact/information vs emotion/story emphasis, Be perceptive, Group vs individual)
5. DO Ask vs Tell (Pushiness rarely works, Show humility, Most people hate being told what to do or think)
6. DO Be Ok With Tension (Don’t avoid conflict, Don’t shut down, Reflect on any baggage you have with tension)
7. DO Speak With Authority (Not sheepish, Avoid excessive disclaimers, Boldness has its place)
8. DO Be Funny (Make it light, People don’t like heaviness, Sarcasm doesn’t count, Yes there are bad jokes)
1. DON’T Be Flusterable (Master your emotions, Don’t need people to respond in a certain way in order for you to be effective, Communicate objectively, Don’t let them push buttons, Of course it’s ok to have passion)
2. DON’T Reflexively Rebut (Listen, More “Tell me more…”, Wait 2 seconds, Silence is a great technique at times, Interjecting quickly is usually interrupting—and doesn't communicate that you are listening!)
3. DON’T Use Trigger Words (e.g., Always, Never, You have to, There’s no way, I guarantee you, etc.; Never ever misquote them, Not too blunt, Being good with words is important)
4. DON’T Use Bad Analogies (A bad analogy is worse than no analogy)
5. DON’T Repeat Yourself Unnecessarily (This is annoying, If you are repeating yourself then you probably aren’t communicating well!, Don’t reclarify, Don’t let your need to be understood get in the way of seeking to understand)
6. DON’T Have Bad Body Language (Furrowed eyebrows, Crossed arms, Analytical face, Blank face—they will fill the void!)
7. DON’T Expect Them to Agree or Change Right Away (Your job may be to simply plant the seed, Don’t corner them, Don’t expect immediate shift in position)
I would encourage you to pick one DO to do more often and one DON’T to do less often and put a recurring reminder on your calendar to be more intentional. Best of luck in your journey to getting your way!