Expert: Persuasive Communication
Whether you realize it or not, persuasion is often at work in your relationships with others. Influence is a two-way street. There are times when you need to convince others to take a certain action, and times when others are working to persuade you to make a choice. Persuasion vs. Coercion or Manipulation Effective persuasion leaves the influenced person feeling good about the decision made or action taken. Less ideal are coercion, or strong-arming someone, and manipulation—pushing a person’s buttons to get them to react as you wish.
Two Primary Human Motives Two primary motives associated with persuasion are fear of loss and opportunity for gain. If you want others to feel good about what you propose, they must see how they gain by taking action or lose by not doing so. Out of the two motives, fear of loss—the negative one—is the more powerful influence. When others are warned to take evasive action to avoid disaster the impact is much greater than when they are told or sold how they will benefit from an action.
Three Elements of Persuasion When aiming to persuade others, you must deliver a careful mix of credibility, logic and emotional appeal. Which elements are emphasized in this vital mix changes from person to person or audience to audience. Being persuasive is knowing when credibility needs to be established or when factual proof is required versus when you must appeal to your listener’s emotions. Some are more concerned with credibility, others with the facts of a situation and some with how they feel about what is proposed. The majority of people are moved to vote, purchase or follow someone through the emotional element.
MAKING YOUR CASE There are two approaches you can take when working to persuade someone.
Positive Approach With a positive approach, you convey to your audience how much they will gain from a decision or new action. You must remind them of your credibility, or why you have the right to speak to them on the subject, and be sure to state facts that support what you are promoting.
Negative Approach When people are slow to get on board or resistant to what you are urging, you will need to go with a negative approach. The three steps to this approach are the warning, rescue and next steps or more information. For example, start with, “I’ve got some bad news….” It should only take you a sentence to get people’s attention by warning them that things are less than ideal or going badly. Follow with, “The good news is….” And express clearly that if a certain course of action is taken disaster will be averted. Again, a few words should suffice. This is followed by sharing the next steps to be taken or more information about the situation. Conclude with the credibility element by reminding the individual or group why they should listen to and follow you. The reasons include your expertise, experience or education.
You Are the Persuasive Message! Above all is the persuasive message YOU communicate through the five areas of Attitude, Dress, Expressions, Poise and Tone of Voice. The acronym is A.D.E.P.T., meaning capable. When you present yourself with a matched message between these five elements—or in a congruent manner—you are more likely to be trusted, respected, understood and believed.
Rich Drinon President Drinon & Associates
Rich Drinon provides Executive Communication Skills training to leadership, management and sales teams. He has conducted thousands of programs for hundreds of organizations across the U.S. and Canada over the past 27 years.