Power of Persuasion

All of us definitely are required to perfect our communications skills.  I continuously need to sharpen all my skills, of all the skills, the one of  persuasion would yield instantaneous and the largest pay back. I was lucky to have known this fact early in my life career and later joining the Toastmasters club was delightful.

Perfecting Your Powers of Persuasion

The Persuasion Process
Simply stated, persuasion is the ability to sway others toward a different perspective. It takes careful preparation and the ability to frame/reframe, offer concessions, communicate one’s position through evidence/logic, and to correctly match the other party’s emotional state.

The starting point is credibility. It is your expertise, your relationship, your reputation in the organization, and your ability to be proactive when dealing with others. Trust is the foundation of persuasion and is manifest in certain behaviors: honest communication, body language that displays interest, listening and questioning, and so on.

The content of one’s message and the way the content is delivered is also important. The content needs to focus on the goal that is common to both parties and on the need to reach that goal mutually. This makes the message attractive to the other party
and generates reciprocity on the other side. In other words, if your message is constructed correctly, the responding message from the other party will be something you can build on.

As with any message, yours must be supported with evidence and rationale. This may take the form of an analogy, statistics, or even a reference to a value the other party has. For example, when you are trying to persuade an employee to change performance behaviors, you may discover that he or she values working alone (the reason for the lack of proper performance behavior). Wanting to work alone is validated by reframing it as having a strong personal work ethic. This, in turn, establishes a discussion that takes this issue and reframes it as a value that would benefit others in the organization. This may persuade the employee not to work alone as often so that others can see his or her strong work ethic.

Finally, a skilled negotiator is quick to assess the emotional state of the other party and to respond to that state. This requires on the part of the negotiator a high self-esteem level and emotional balance when handling conflict. Having self-esteem allows the
negotiator to display passion for reaching agreement, while the emotional balance makes certain that the passion is not over- or underwhelming.

How to Be More Persuasive
Most people use only facts to persuade. This is unfortunate, because facts only justify a position if you tend to agree with that position. Persuasion is a complex art. It involves a careful blend of feelings, logic, WIIFTs (what’s in it for them), and values. Because people feel differently about different material needs and situations and because WIIFTs vary from person to person, persuasive techniques must be adapted to each person in each situation.

To successfully persuade someone, you must appeal to them on three levels:

1. Emotion (opens the mind)
The use of emotion in persuasion must be planned carefully. You need to be enthusiastic and confident about your plan, idea, or settlement (emotion really does open the mind). However, like garlic in stew, too much of an emotional appeal will fail as surely as no emotional appeal at all. You need to find ways to keep the other party emotionally involved in the discussion. You will notice a distinct lack of energy at the table if you or the other party is emotionally uninvolved.

2. Logic (justifies the recommendation)
Logic is the rational, factual, reasoned discourse about the merits of an idea or settlement. Logic is a core part of persuasion. Emotion opens the mind and logic justifies the position you are taking.

3. Values (seals the deal)
The final part of persuasion is the appeal to values. Values are beliefs that guide behavior. Each of us has values that are unique to us and values that we share in common. You should make your persuasive appeal within the context of the other party’s “dominant receptivity mode.”

“Dominant receptivity mode” refers to predominant values that the other party holds dear. Perhaps the person you are dealing with is a conservative traditionalist favoring the status quo. You would not persuade such a person to buy your product by pointing out that your item represents state-of-the-art technology used by entrepreneurs. Instead, you might position the product as one that will help him/her preserve assets that increase the efficiency of the workforce. You market your product or idea to match the other person’s dominant receptivity mode (i.e., value system).

How, then, do you use this persuasion model in everyday negotiations? You can use the model in this way:

  • Appeal to emotion—State a claim
    A claim is an opinion unsubstantiated by fact. The claim is generally the vehicle by which an emotional appeal is made. An effective claim stimulates the interest of the listener—it opens the listener’s mind. For example: “I could show you a way to increase your sales by 18 percent. Would you be interested?”
  • Appeal to logi—State facts to support the claim
    A fact is information that can be verified by independent sources or proven through empirical investigation. Facts must back up claims and be verifiable by independent sources. Facts are the logical part of persuasion. For example: “In a carefully designed and controlled study in two organizations similar to yours, those who took this course in negotiation settled on average 18% higher in their sales efforts than those who did not take the course.”
  • Appeal to values—Assign a meaning/WIIFT
    A meaning is the personal benefit that someone can make of the claim or fact.
    For example: “What all this means is that you’ll have increased profits in your
    division.” You can demonstrate a personal WIIFT meaning at this point, speaking to the issue in
    terms of the party’s dominant receptivity mode. For example: “John, with increased profits you will be in a position to negotiate increased commissions for you and your staff.”

In any negotiation, it’s important to remember to listen to the other party. This involves:

  • Responding to the person rather than to the concepts
  • Following the other party’s claim, facts, and meaning rather than trying to go to areas you think should be explored
  • Clarifying what the other party is saying
  • Acknowledging the feelings being expressed by the other party

Text printed from AMA web site to whom I am indebted.


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