Sunday, December 4, 2011

Practical Pointers on Everyday Persuasion - Part 1

Maybe you want to convince your boss to give you greater independence on a case or project. Perhaps you have to recruit new members for your organization. Today you might be trying to convince a judge. Tomorrow you might need to convince someone to change their behavior, give you a raise, buy something or support a cause.

We encounter situations daily in which we are trying to persuade someone else to hold a certain belief or act a certain way or in which someone is similarly trying to persuade us.

Instead of trying to win an argument or force something on someone, what can you do to polish your power of persuasion for these daily encounters?

Much has been written about the art of persuasion, including Dale Carnegie’s 1936 classic How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you have not read it, I recommend this little old book. But if your time is limited, here are a few pointers on everyday persuasion.

1. Trust and Credibility

I may sound like a broken record but people do business with people they know, like and trust. We use doctors, babysitters and hair dressers with whom we have experience or who are recommended to us because someone else we trust knows, likes and trusts them. We patronize franchises and buy brand name products because we know what to expect. They have credibility in our eyes.

Similarly, your relationships with the people you seek to persuade also play a key role in your ability to persuade them. The more trust and credibility you have with them, the easier it is to persuade them. Moreover, you may have found that you personally are more easily persuaded by people you like.

Therefore, even in brief persuasion encounters, try to establish trust as well as credibility and be positive, likeable, confident. Of course, this includes being sincere and knowledgeable about your subject.

You can use subconscious persuasion techniques like mirroring the person’s body language, getting them nodding, using reciprocity, or over-asking and making your second request the real one. But without trust and credibility, these techniques won’t get you far in winning someone over or inducing a particular action.

For example, without an underlying relationship built on trust and credibility, I never could have persuaded three members in my bar association to be guinea pigs in a new e-newsletter last month. They agreed to be the first featured members, in part, because they trusted that the association and I would produce a quality publication.

Part 2 tomorrow.