The Art of Persuasion:
Get the Edge You Need to Reach Your
By Paul Endress
Regardless of your industry or profession, chances are you regularly
have to persuade others to adopt your ideas. Whether you’re
persuading a client to buy your product, your boss to give you a
raise, your co-worker to give you a piece of that key project, or
even your kids to clean their room, you often need others to see
things your way.
while research shows that most people believe they can’t be sold,
the fact is that those same people can indeed be persuaded if they
don’t recognize that a “sales” technique is being used. That’s why
smart professionals today are using the art of persuasion, rather
than sales, to get others to do what they want.
that persuasion does not involve tricks, gimmicks, lying, or
anything unethical. When you use persuasion techniques you are
merely employing simple psychology concepts to make your message
more credible and believable. And for persuasion to truly work,
whatever message you’re conveying must be based in truth and
delivered with the right intentions. After all, you’re persuading
someone to your point of view, not conning someone to do or think
something questionable. With that said, following are the
persuasion principles that will give you an edge so others adopt
your ideas with ease.
Aim at a narrow target. When attempting to get someone to adopt
their ideas, many people do a data dump on their listener. They give
every possible fact, figure, and feature in hopes that some of the
information will stick and persuade the other party. However, if you
want to be effective at persuasion, then you need to keep your focus
during the conversation as narrow as possible. So rather than talk
about everything possible that might persuade the other person, find
out what’s important to your listener and then persuade on those
points only. The best way to uncover what’s important to the other
person is to ask. That’s right…simply ask, “What’s important to you
about… [insert whatever topic you’re addressing].” Then listen to
what your listener says and speak only to those points.
asking such a direct question doesn’t seem appropriate for your
situation, you can couch your question within a statement, such as,
“I was talking with someone the other day about [insert your topic],
and they told me that _______ was the most important thing to them
about [insert your topic]. That wouldn’t be important to you too,
would it?” So your statement could sound like: “I was talking with
someone the other day about buying a car, and they told me that gas
mileage was the most important thing they considered when purchasing
a vehicle. That wouldn’t be important to you too, would it?” Allow
the person to answer and give you the information you need. Then you
can gauge how to direct your conversation based on their response.
Use stories to convey your message. Stories are an extremely
effective way to persuade. However, many people are too obvious with
their stories, and as a result they come across as giving a sales
spiel. The best way to use stories as a persuasion tool is to simply
tell your listener about something that is similar to your concept
(an analogy). For example, suppose you want to convey the idea that
your product will give the person peace of mind. First, determine
what that idea is like…what is similar to having peace of mind? You
may decide that “relaxation” is similar to the concept of peace of
mind. If so, what conjures up images of relaxation to you? To this
you might reply that a day at the beach equates to relaxation. If
so, then tell a story about a day at the beach.
another example: Let’s say you’re trying to motivate you staff to
try something new and you want to convey the idea of being open to
discover new ideas. What is that idea like? What is similar to
discovering new ideas? For many, it’s similar to being surprised. So
then, what else elicits a surprise? How about opening a present?
Tell a story about that. The point is to pinpoint what you want to
convey, decide what that idea is like, determine what else is like
that main idea, and then tell a story about the similar concept,
idea, or thing. This indirect approach works.
Use a second or third party quote. Sometimes you may have to
tell people bad news in order to get them to see things your way. If
you don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, you could use a second
or third party quote to tell the news for you. For example, you
could tell a client, “I was talking with Joe Smith the other day and
he said that ABC Company has trouble making deliveries on time.”
Another example would be to say “My father used to always tell me
___________”, and then tell them what you want to tell them. Who
could argue with your father? The only caveat is that you cannot use
this technique to say something that is not true. The goal is to
deliver truthful news or make a point in a way that doesn’t reflect
poorly on you or make you appear as though you’re selling.
Use pacing and leading to prove your point. Pacing and leading
involves the idea that if the brain can verify two things as true,
it will accept the third fact as being true too. So if you tell
someone, “My name is Mary Jones and I’m with Acme Corporation,” the
listener’s mind can quickly verify those two facts as true. Then
whatever you say next, such as, “We have the lowest prices on your
office supply needs,” rings true to the listener as well. Again, you
cannot use this technique to say something false. Whatever your
third piece of information is, it must be a reasonable fact.
Slight Edge Yields Huge Rewards: None of these persuasion
techniques are magic or “smoke and mirrors.” They are designed to
give you a slight edge in your dealings with others. And if you
think a slight edge is meaningless, think again. After all, in the
Olympics, the difference between those who win the gold and those
who win the silver is often just a few hundredths of a second or a
fraction of a point. A slight edge goes a long way. So arm yourself
with these persuasion tools and make them a part of your everyday
conversations with others. When you do, you’ll find that others are
more apt to adopt your ideas, resulting in more winning solutions
for everyone involved.
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about Paul Endress.
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