The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
10 Insights into the Art of Persuasion
Whenever we want to get our own way and there is resistance, we try to persuade the other person or group of people to accept our way of thinking. This could be as simple as convincing your significant other that you should go to restaurant (a) instead of restaurant (b). Persuasion is a regular part of selling, management, leadership, and teamwork. The question is, what steps can you take to increase the chances that your argument will win out?
Here are ten things you can do to make yourself more persuasive.
- Be consistent and logical with your message. When faced with other people’s arguments, it's tempting but dangerous to change your reasoning in a way that is inconsistent with your original rationale. If you believe you are correct, then be consistent in your logic. Don’t ramble; present your strongest point first, followed by your backup reasoning.
- Understand that people process information differently. Your argument should not be one size fits all. An analytical person will need facts, stats, and a whole bunch of logic. A driver personality needs to see the benefit to them in your argument. An expressive, high-energy person will get onside quicker if you tell them a story. Quieter, more reserved individuals will seek guarantees and proof that what you say is safe to believe.
- When putting forward your argument, understand the difference between subjective and objective information. Demonstrate that you have looked at all sides of the situation, the pros and the cons, and show why you believe your suggestion is the right course of action or choice. Be open about how your opinion might have changed in the light of your research and factfinding and that you fully understand the opposing view.
- Establish your credibility more through the experience you have with the topic at hand than your qualifications. Tell stories about how your experiences have shaped your opinion.
- Always have the best interests of those you are trying to persuade at the forefront, whether that is an individual or a team. Think long-term relationship, not short-term win. If people see this, they are more likely to agree with you.
- Ask questions about why individuals have an opposing view. Why do they believe what they believe? Do they have direct experience? Are they basing it on hearsay? Do they have facts to back up what they are saying? Understanding where they are coming from will allow you to develop persuasive arguments.
- If you witness hesitancy in agreeing with your point of view, probe for the person’s reservations. Ask, “I can see you are unsure about what I just presented; why is that?” One of the top sales techniques is to probe for objections. Only by getting objections out in the open can you deal with them.
- Use metaphors, analogies, and stories liberally. They help people visualize what you are saying and identify with it situationally. This approach also simplifies the message.
- When dealing with a team, or other groups of people, try to find an opportunity to have informal conversations with the parties concerned before the “persuasion” session. Getting people onside early and understanding any reservations will help you make your case later.
- Don’t turn persuasion into badgering. If you are facing resistance, ask, “What would it take to persuade you? Help me understand.” You may discover that the person, or team, simply needs more facts, stats, or background information. Open the door to the possibility that you may be willing to meet them halfway or partway.
Sometimes you can’t persuade people in one session. Respect their need for more information or simply time to mull over your position. Suggest you circle back in a few days and revisit the conversation. Persuasion should not be a war of attrition; if it is, you haven’t persuaded someone; you’ve battled them into submission. The latter will not serve you well moving forward. Do it right, however, and you will convince people in such a manner that you will achieve their buy-in. And that is worth money in the bank.
Work, Vacations, and Your Significant Other
Do you regularly work late? Do you take business calls, reply to texts, and answer emails when on vacation? How does your significant-other feel about you always being connected to your business? Is it causing stress?
There has been a lot written about work-life balance over the years, mostly exhorting the importance of not letting work take over your personal life, but in the real world, if you want to get on, you will have to go above and beyond to be successful. It is good practice to agree on work-life priorities with your significant other long before vacations become part of the story.
For ambitious businesspeople, the question is not whether to work; it’s how to work and minimize the stress it causes for your loved ones. Here are a few tips to help prevent you from choosing between your business and your relationship.
- If things are volatile between you and your spouse, sit down with those most affected by your having to work and discuss why you need to work during vacation or family time and what the benefits are to everyone involved. Highlight the financial benefits your business currently brings and the long-term security it could offer. Talk about the sacrifices in relation to the rewards. If you or your spouse decide the sacrifices are too great, you may need to seriously rethink your business life and career.
- If your situation is less volatile; perhaps your significant other just rolls their eyes and sighs every time you deal with a business matter when on vacation, then it may be a good idea to set some expectations ahead of time. A few days, or weeks before you leave, mention that you may have to answer calls, texts, or emails from clients. The earlier you have this conversation, the better. If you need to work on a project when away, mention this and devise a way to minimize the impact. Perhaps, in the mornings, you could wake early and do an hour or two of work before everyone else gets up. Or, do an hour or so once everyone has gone to bed. This approach can help defuse what could become a problematic situation.
- Another approach is to ask yourself how critical it is that you work during personal time. Would it be feasible to let your clients know you are going away and ask them whether it would be okay to get back to them on your return? It is surprising that most people understand that you need some downtime.
- A strategy that can work when you are working on a project with a client is to contact them just before leaving for your break with a bunch of questions or a draft document for them to review. This can buy you some time before you need to become reinvolved.
- Delegation can also allow you to minimize interruptions. Anticipate the issues that might arise and brief an employee or sub-contractor so they can deal with them in your absence.
- Whatever situation you find yourself in, a good strategy is to plan a way to make it up to the people you are having to ignore while working. Show them that they are still a priority.
Using some or all of these techniques will help you overcome the “working on vacation” syndrome and the downward relationship spiral to which it can lead.
However, before mitigating the adverse effects, your work may have on your family, think carefully about how crucial the work is to your success. Often, we put too much importance and urgency on our work when it could have easily been put off for a few days or weeks.
Coach's Corner - Six Ideas for Motivating Others
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams
Being a leader requires that you motivate others. A motivated team of people is the foundation of a successful organization. However, how do you as a leader create an environment for this inspired group of workers?
Here are six ideas you might consider when looking to better motivate your team members.
- Be motivated yourself, and honest and trustworthy in your intentions. People become motivated when they see their leader is motivated and committed to their goals.
- Treat each member of your staff as a distinct individual. Recognize that each person has a unique perspective. What motivates one person may not be important to another. You, as a leader, need to figure out what works for each individual.
- Set challenging and realistic goals. When people are faced with impossible or unachievable goals, it is demotivating. Set targets that are challenging but achievable.
- Recognize and acknowledge progress. Give feedback and celebrate successes along the way, no matter how big or small; encouragement motivates people to do more.
- Be fair. People are more likely to stay with a company where their leader shows fairness and avoids favouritism with wages, recognition, promotions, advancement opportunities, increased responsibilities, and bonuses.
- Acknowledge individual and group contributions. Acknowledging the importance of someone’s contribution to a project, shows recognition and the value the person brings to the team. It also inspires trust; another great people motivator.
Motivating your team is one of your primary roles as a leader. People are motivated by people they trust and respect, and who constantly display integrity.
“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” —Simon Sinek
“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”—Dwight D. Eisenhower
Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching