The Art of Persuasion

One of the courses I teach is how to win arguments by not arguing. It’s about using Socratic questioning to help guide people to a better understanding of the problem we and they face.  This works because the focus is on the other person and that inclines them to listen to what it is you have to say, because it’s about them.

For me, the art of persuasion is the art of leading. Meaning, you help the other person learn how to think through whatever the problem is more effectively so that they can solve the problem they think needs solving. You are helping them, not persuading them. Big difference!

Why is it important for people to learn the art of persuasion?

Humans are social animals. We are at our best when we collaborate with others. The problem is, collaboration sometimes means, what we want and need isn’t going to be a group’s priority. So learning how to persuade others that what you think needs to be done or should be done is a good skill for everyone to have. It can influence your ability to sell things or sell yourself, which in this economy is a necessity.

3 ways to perfect the art of persuasion 

Be Like Socrates – Ask Questions: 
There is a reason why every course and book on selling encourages you to ask questions. In order to persuade people of anything, you have to know what motivates them and you can only know what motivates them if you ask them questions. What normally happens is that people assume they know what other people want and need and proceed to explain to them why whatever they offer is what this other person needs. But what they are really doing is trying to persuade a strawman. A person who doesn’t exist. Don’t try to persuade a strawman. Find out who the real person you are trying to persuade is and wants before you try to persuade them of anything.

 Frame The Problem Properly: 
The next thing people do wrong is that they don’t listen to what the person they are trying to persuade wants or is interested in. They do their best to echo words they heard during the Q&A process and they think this will make them sound sympathetic. It doesn’t. It makes them sound like they are trying too hard. Worse, it makes it sounds like they aren’t really concerned about the other person at all, but about whether they can persuade this other person to do what they need them to do. But why should they if you fail to understand or even take an interest in what their problem is. What we should be doing is using the Q&A to figure out what problems the other person has and what they are most concerned about. Framing the problem properly means that you are able to reflect back to the person you are trying to persuade what they agree is their actual problem. But you do this in a way that positions what you offer and or need as part as a possible solution to the problem. You don’t voice your solution yet or that you might be able to help them until you know whether or not you have something of value to offer and you can only know that if you frame the problem properly and they agree – yes- that’s my problem.

Help Them Solve Their Problem: 
Once you know what their problem is – you can now start helping them solve their problem effectively. You do this collaboratively with them and if it just so happens that your interests and their interests overlap – well double plus good.

How can we make sure we're being persuasive but not manipulative?

Don’t try to force yourself on anyone. This isn’t about you, it’s about them and their needs and their problems. All good sales people know to refer people to someone else if you can’t help them. When you do, those people become your most loyal customers because they trust you as an advisor. You aren’t so selfish that you are going to sell them something that won’t work for them. It’s very hard for most people to get out of their head long enough to focus on the real needs and problems of other people, but the most persuasive people do this as a matter of habit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...