When understood, persuasion is an effective business tool. Here is how to use persuasion effectively.
Persuasion is a skill that is generally misunderstood, misused, and underutilized. Persuasion is perceived to be a tool for sales and manipulation. Persuasion is perceived as a tool for selling cars — a profession that is not highly regarded (according to a Gallup poll, 92 percent of Americans believe car salespeople have low ethical standards). Yes, persuasion can be used to sell, to manipulate, and deceive. However, there is another side to persuasion — a side that walks hand-in-hand with negotiation. When approaching persuasion in this manner, persuasion has nothing to do with being the loudest or most aggressive. Rather, it is about defining a goal and getting people to buy into it; it is more about the finesse than the fight. When used appropriately, persuasion is an effective business tool.
Here are seven tips on being persuasive:
- Don't come out with guns blazing . If you start by looking for a fight, you will find one. Instead, work your way into your position so that you can adjust your expectations on the fly.
- Be flexible . Very simply, rigid things break, but flexible ones bend and then snap back. Show your flexibility and be willing to compromise. If you do this, the other side will be more willing to adjust their position and/or come along for the ride.
- Think of persuasion as a courtship and not a one-night stand . You will rarely drive consensus or alignment with a “one-and-done” approach. Show you are willing to invest the time to sort out the finer points and the other side will be less likely to fight and will be more likely to help you get to the answer you want.
- Be interested . If you want people to listen to you, listen to them. Really listen and be interested in what they are saying. By doing this you may discover you have more common ground than you thought, or you may find there is another way to get to yes.
- Persuade, do not manipulation. Manipulation is based in deceit and coercion. Persuasion is about compromise, communication, and evolving beliefs. The distinction is significant and needs to be remembered.
- Communicate clearly. Persuasion is about being able to clearly, effectively, and simply communicate — it is about boiling an issue down to its core. Make sure you know your position and that you can state it clearly and simply. If you can't state your position clearly and simply, you will not be able to be persuasive.
- Believe. Believe in your position and exude confidence. If you don't believe in your position you will not be able to effectively persuade people. Likewise, if you show a crack in your confidence veneer — the game is up.
By applying basic persuasion practices, whether working with colleagues or supply chain partners, you'll find that you'll get to new places — and everyone will get there with you.