How Good Are You at Persuading?
Do you believe most teachers of, sales and negotiation skills, rely on tricks to get a short-term win? Or do you believe they teach people how to communicate and collaborate for the long term? It is too often the former.
Persuasion is creating an emotional connection that motivates action or change of mind in the receiver. Long-term persuasion is a relationship that is authentic, transparent in intent and reciprocally beneficial. It is built on mutual respect and works for both parties.
The most powerful way to persuade is to be prepared to be persuaded. To be open to building on others’ ideas and to be confident in what you are asking or presenting. People want to be led to success. They also want to be heard, considered, respected, and valued. They want to contribute, to be included, and to be treated fairly.
Here, are five steps to being more persuasive
- Know what you want; now, next week, and over the long haul, then act accordingly.
Sometimes it is difficult to know when you are brainstorming, collaborating, selling or negotiating. So it is always wise to know what your objective is and to be sure everyone is in the same conversation. Always allow yourself time prior to the meeting. Clarity is critical to motivating conversations and to persuasion.
- To help you express your thoughts clearly, do not wait for the meeting to begin. Write down in advance the key points you want to cover. It is the most effective way to codify your thinking and avoid sending mixed messages.
- Never think of it as an isolated meeting. You will likely need to work with these people time and again. So it is essential to build trust and expectations for the long haul.
- A meeting is far more effective, if everyone has the same understanding of its purpose. You need to know both your intent, and the intent of the other attendees. A valuable step is to ask something like; “Just before we dive in let’s spend a moment to understand what we want to accomplish today.
- To help demonstrate you are listening, look at the speaker and write down the gist of what they are saying without judgment. Then summarize it back giving them acknowledged ownership of their thought and giving everyone clarity.
- Note we are not asking people to make a judgment about why they are here. We are not asking for agreement. We are giving everyone a moment, to share knowledge, about why they have gathered. This reduces anxiety and increase cohesion and community.
Are you there to sell or negotiate? I hope not. I hope you are there to learn, help, collaborate or resolve. Selling and negotiating are tactics. Focus on the relationship and the goal. The purpose needs to be to do something in the group’s collective or individual best interests. If not, it will very quickly become evident and in all likelihood things will go downhill fast.
- Remember they are people before they are a position, a collaborator, an employee, an ally, or an opponent
Take time before the meeting formally begins to acknowledge them as an individual you value and care about as a person. Then keep this attitude throughout the meeting. People want to be acknowledged and valued and it is wise to do so even if they are an opposing counsel or the resident cynic.
- Be mindful that actions speak louder than words and the heart always wins over logic.
Seventy-five percent of communication is nonverbal. This means that the messages you convey have more to do with your actions, gestures, posture, and intent, than what you say.
The best sales people, collaborators, and negotiators use a coach to be sure their body is communicating what they want it to communicate. The better you become at using nonverbal communication and reading the nonverbal messages, the more effective you can be at working in a team, negotiating, selling, persuading and leading.
Realize that everything you do physically is part of the communication process. Be careful to not send the wrong message, by doing something that conflicts with what you want to achieve.
Your body signifies what is in your heart. The heart always wins over logic and reason. The power of persuasion is emotion not logic.
- Use silence and active empathetic listening
Stop talking to communicate you are listening, to organize yourself, or to build on what someone has said. Make sure everything you say reflects the true meaning of your thoughts. This helps you organize what you are going to say and helps you digest what others are saying and thinking.
- Keep an open mind and be receptive to others; messages, ideas and needs.
- Listen for feelings, as well as facts, and acknowledge others concerns. It is easier, and more constructive to actively hear, or park a concern, than to ignore, or dismiss it. If you are parking it make sure you verbalize you are parking it, commit to return to it, and ask permission to park it using a reason that benefits the speaker or the group. “Let’s delve further into that once we have heard .....” is one way to do it.
- Respond to the team’s input as just input. Even if it is a position or an attack it is still input so never hesitate to acknowledge it as; important, valid, or stimulating input.
- Stimulate the other party with questions that nurture purposeful conversation, that moves to a solution or investigation and clarifies your understanding of his or her message. Purposeful conversation does not include whining or personal attack.
- To give yourself time to reorganize, shift or collect your thoughts a marvellous phrase is “That’s interesting tell me; more /why /how....
- Forecast your intent to make it productive for both sides and then follow through by translating your actions, requests, exploration, and messages into benefits for the other parties
People always listen more carefully when there is a benefit for them. Search for the win-win. You only truly persuade over the long haul when your audience wins over the long haul.
How effective are you at persuading over the long haul?
- Do you know your long term goal?
- Are you confident and consistent in body and language?
- Does your audience win over the long haul?
- Is your intent for them to win; clear, honest, and consistent?
- Are you flexible and inclusive in how you reach the goal?
- Do you enrol your audience into the idea
- Are you respectful of them, and their ideas or contributions?
- Do you follow the golden rule?
Long term persuasion is about cultivating authenticity, honesty and reciprocity and achieving an outcome that works for everyone.