Galway Advertiser 2005/2005_02_03/GA_0302_E1_018.pdf
February 3 2005
H E A LT H
Have you ever stood back and watched a great persuader in action? It might be a respected politician, a gifted salesperson or a canny sevenyear-old. Without using any particularly obvious technique, they get their own way. They don't yell or plead or drone on for ages, their approach is much more subtle and effective. We encounter people like this every day and often come away from them with our pockets lighter, our views changed and having committed ourselves to things we would never consider volunteering for in normal circumstances. The ability to win others over to one's viewpoint is an invaluable skill. Think of how much more successful we would be in everyday life asking for a raise at work, sorting out differences with neighbours, influencing management decisions, getting children to help out at home - if we could use these enviable techniques to good effect? Here are some ways to help you be more persuasive:1. Use the home-ground advantage. If you are having problems with a noisy neighbour, think twice before agreeing to meet him at his home. Many people tend to be more persuasive in their own surroundings. We often become more on guard and defensive in unfamiliar settings. This thinking applies to all situations. Business people usually tend to hold important meetings in their own offices or premises. Bosses often use the "Step into my office please" approach if they want to give you a dressing down. If you can't hold discussions in your home or office, opt for neutral territory, that way the other side won't have the home advantage. 2. Concentrate on people's positive attributes. If you dislike someone, this will be reflected in your voice and body language. Avoid this by trying to think of something positive about them, such as the way they dress, in an attempt to control your nonverbal communication. 3. Maintain eye contact. Eyes are very expressive, take note of how they light up when you see someone you like and how dull and glazed over they appear when you are bored in someone's company. If you want to give a message impact, increase your eye contact. This shows you are paying attention and are interested in or like whoever you are talking to. (Just watch how Bill Clinton uses this skill to stunning effect.) Without eye contact, we reduce the impact of what we say. We often distrust people who cannot hold our gaze, describing them as shifty. If you are speaking to a group, try to look at all of them equally. That shows you are talking to them individually. 4. Smile. This is a vital ingredient in setting a scene, making people feel
comfortable. Even in hostile situations, it helps soften the atmosphere. 5. Look your best. First impressions count. People are influenced by appearances so if you dress well and look groomed, you will not only feel better, you may achieve a more successful outcome, too. 6. Keep your point brief. If you have got something important to say, keep it brief and relevant. Don't enlarge on it in the hope that the longer you speak, the more effective you will be. You will only obscure your original message. If you are making a short speech in front of a group, stick to a few points to make it memorable. 7. Make a strong case. Whether you are asking your boss for a raise or garnering support for a new community project, you will increase your persuasive powers if you give your listeners solid evidence or information instead of opinion. Use credible sources of authority whenever you can to support your case. Use examples and personal experiences to create a more vivid picture. 8. Anticipate opposition. Always assess your listener(s) in advance and decide which line is best. If there is going to be a discussion and you are likely to encounter differing views, anticipate any opposition that is likely to arise before it does. Look at the subject for discussion from every angle beforehand. 9. Build in a face-saving mechanism. If you are likely to encounter opposition or criticism, this could result in a direct verbal attack which might rattle your plans to stay calm and persuasive. Guard against this happening by finding a way in which the other person can change her views or climb down gracefully without diminishing her status. That way her dignity will be preserved. You will need to find something you agree with in her argument to enable her to save face. You could say you agree in principle with what she says or agree with part of it and then raise your objections as an afterthought. Or say you accept her point is a good one and you would agree to her request (for a r a i s e / s h o r t e r h o u r s / b e t t e r resources in the school) if you could. That way you are not dismissing her but are not saying yes. 10. Create empathy. It is important to set a scene if you want to win someone over to your line of thinking. Good persuaders first create trust then empathy. They show respect for the other person's feelings.
How to get your own way
A smile is a vital ingredient in setting a scene.
* Decide what you want to say in advance * Ensure your message is as clear and simple as possible. * Choose to say nothing if unsure about something * Avoid using the term "should" if possible. People do not like being told what to do. If you want to get someone to do something try phrasing it in a more people friendly way "I'd really like/appreciate if you could work late tomorrow/collect the children from school/tone down the music late at night" * Your aim is to be assertive not aggressive * Your feelings of discomfort are valid. Your have a right to say 'no' if you want to. Knowing that you have a choice in life boosts your sense of empowerment and self esteem * The more you identify with the other person the more persuasive you will appear. We tend to gravitate towards and believe people who seem like "one of us" * Match the tone of voice, volume, rhythm and speech of the listeners and aim to mirror their body language. That way you are sending back the same signals they are sending you * Use the broken record technique. Keep repeating your message and do not let the other person deflect you by changing the point at issue. It may take up to 10 repetitions to generate a solution (by then the opposition will give in just to shut you up!). After you make your point, listen carefully to the other person's response which may be defensive or aggressive. Then restate your message. Listen while they speak again and then re-assert your message. Keep this up until you make progress. You can allow some time between repetitions, hours or days if necessary, for example in the case of a neighbour playing loud music.
The ability to win others over to one's viewpoint is an invaluable skill.