The Powers of Persuasion
Persuasion is the single most important skill for a person to master both professionally and
personally. Without this skill leaders would be unable to lead, and salespeople would be unable to sell. Persuasion is the key to success in every facet of life. Most people don’t understand the key elements of persuasion and fewer still apply the process.
Current neurological brain research shows how the mind reacts to logic and emotion. By integrating age-old knowledge with modern science we can help people make quick, non-analytical decisions using their own built-in shortcuts to making decisions.
The more skilled leaders are at the art and science of persuasion, the more likely it is that the goals of the organization will be met successfully without frustration or resistance.
Building Blocks of Persuasion
Leading through persuasion is a skill that can be learned. It’s not about swaying people against their will; persuasion is offering others a chance to see things from a different perspective. As the initiator, you must find a delivery system that allows you to communicate your conviction in a compelling way. Taking part in the act of persuading others and sweeping them up into a mutual vision can be a wonderful experience.
Persuasion is defined as a process that changes attitudes, beliefs, opinions or behaviors. It’s the single most powerful skill a leader can possess. Persuasion provides the ability to shift and transform employees and ultimately the culture of an organization. Leaders who practice the skill of persuasion are more engaged and trusted by their employees than those who adhere to the old “command and control” way of management.
There are three building blocks that support the persuasion process. Plato and Aristotle defined the process thousands of years ago, but they still remain valid today.
The three building blocks are:
Every persuasion process involves one or more of these building blocks. To decide which tool to use, logic or emotion, it’s essential to understand whether an individual responds in an analytical way or an automatic way.
The Secret Life of the Brain
The analytical thinker is thinking logically, systematically working out the decision with analysis, judgment, evaluation, and concentration.
The automatic thinker operates on “gut feelings”, basing decisions on their automatic, built in psychological reactions. Our brains are hard wired to respond to stimuli that help us make easy, quick, correct decisions. We respond to these powers of non-analytical compliance with what feels like gut reactions. These reactions are a composite of prior situations and experiences that we draw on. They are our built in navigational aids. They are essential parts of our very being. Leaders who learn to help others make quick, automatic, non analytical decisions using their own inborn powers have incredible power over others.
The Powers of Persuasion
The friendship power – this power encompasses all elements that create the feelings of positive relations. The goal of the friendship power is to bond with others by finding common ground, common interests and common goals. The strongest element in the friendship equation is similarity.
The authority power – authority is a critical emotional power, a prerequisite for other powers. Authority is usually defined as a position such as a lawyer, manager, teacher or policeman. The authority power uses the “rightness” of the request based on association of the role.
The consistency power – consistency is important because it makes us feel comfortable, gut level confident that we are making the right decisions. Leaders persuade by making people comfortable. The consistency power forms the bedrock of our internal self-guidance system. People are slaves to consistency and conformity. We use past performance data as a safe, easy comfortable, non-thinking guide to make current decisions and to generate action.
The secret to benefiting from the consistency power is to learn what the person you are trying to persuade will be comfortable with. By learning about the person and how they acted in the past about issues being discussed, frame your request so that a positive decision will be consistent with past actions. Set up a safe “consistency zone” for each person to make relatively risk free, comfortable decisions
The reciprocity power – reciprocity is the well documented, universal psychological requirement to have the recipient of a gift give something back in return. You create indebtedness, and IOU that must be repaid in some way at some point in time.
The hope power – this drives all human motivation. It’s the foundation for all human decision and action. Decisions and actions to achieve hopes, needs, wants and dreams always trump logic, reason and cognitive thought. This wonderful power is easy to activate. Adding the right powers to the hope power, you will have a formidable multi-pronged arsenal for success.
Persuasion is based on giving, receiving and understanding information. To persuade effectively, you must be able to understand an individual’s needs, wants, and desires and be understood when proposing the idea or solution. Effective communication is more important now than ever, especially as employees are encouraged to ask the question “why?” True communication only occurs when the message is received and understood as intended. Communication is the basis for all interaction and is the process of understanding and being understood.
The most persuasive arguments come from leaders who exhibit high ethos, and appeal to both logic and emotion. All of these require listening to, understanding and empathizing with your employees. By listening and understanding, leaders build trust within the organization. Listening also helps one base persuasive arguments on the facts or logic that others find compelling. It is essential to listen and understand to the employees of your organization. Leaders who do not exhibit these qualities have a difficult time persuading and rely on coercive power, rather than leadership.