Individuals are persuaded in many different ways. To persuade someone you need to change someone’s intentions and motivation towards your ideas or beliefs to create a win-win. Let’s highlight some of the more common techniques. You will then be able to identify them and use some of these techniques when persuading others. Mark Skousen, American economist, writes, ‘The triumph of persuasion over force is the sign of a civilized society’, so let’s start with the worst forms of persuasion and finish with more acceptable forms…
- Acts of Aggression – Threats of violence are the lowest form of persuasion. Threats never convince anyone in any circumstance. If anyone attempts to use this technique then escalate to your manager or other trusted person immediately.
- Passive Aggressive – The individual agrees with you in the meeting and will support your proposal however later appears to change their mind. They did not wish to confront during the meeting therefore, they said nothing or feigned agreement. Do not use this tactic yourself. If you have individuals like this then ask the person directly about their opinion, don’t interrupt them and wait for them to present all their thoughts. Agree and clearly define the decision. Ensure you take clear minutes of the discussion to mitigate this disruptive behavior.
- Position – Some people use their title and position to persuade others. This is the lowest form of leadership. They can only reach an agreement by veiled threats based on loss of benefits or poor annual reviews. Never use this tactic yourself.
- Absent Allies – The person trying to influence you makes reference to an influential leader or senior person in the organization, this person cannot be easily referenced. They say that this person agrees with the proposal. This is a poor influencing tactic however, it is often used. Try not to use this one yourself.
- Peer Pressure – On occasion you may find your thoughts on the proposal are in the minority, by the use of peer pressure the remaining members try to influence you. Be true to yourself, make your point to the group, maintain integrity and use another persuasion tactic of your own.
- Favor – If you have given the person a favor in the past, then the person is more obliged to reciprocate, this of course must be genuine and not an attempt to coerce someone.
- Personal Influence – Your level of influence is at different levels with each person. Work with individuals over weeks and months to build good rapport and trust. Great tactic to use.
- Timing – Choose your timing carefully, if the person has just thanked you for a task well done then this is a good time to ask for a favorable decision from them.
- Provide a Choice – You could offer the person a choice. Both options are good for you however, the person you are working with feels they still have control and can make a personal choice.
- Competition – If the person or team is competitive then you could suggest that another team has already completed the task or is trying to do so. This competitive spirit may be used effectively to influence. This of course is the primary motivation in all professional sports.
- Corporate strategy – Demonstrate how your proposal aligns to the corporate strategy, organizations vision or mission statement. Very few people will challenge this approach. Show a clear connection between the strategy and your proposal. Great tactic to use.
- Vision – Present a compelling vision. Say words like, ‘Can you imagine what it would be like when…’ or explain what may be lost if we do not complete the task, assignment or project. This can also be a powerful persuasion technique.
- Own Words – If the person has used key words or terminology during the meeting then repeat these words later. Using the same terminology will build rapport with the person quickly and it is unlikely that anyone will argue against his or her own words during discussion.
- Desire – If the person you are trying to influence wants to do the task then this is perfect. If the request is in their interests or agreed objectives then it is much easier to persuade.
At all times treat people fairly, be honest, and maintain your integrity and you can learn the art of persuasion to benefit both you and your company…
Making Steps and Leaving Footprints…