Sometimes, it seems we spend most of our workday staring down a never-ending string of unrealistic or unachievable demands and deadlines.
Only those gifted at negotiating their way through the swelling workload will survive and thrive. Understanding and employing the power of persuasion is a critical skill for today’s worker. It’s essential that we learn how to diplomatically persuade and convince customers, co-workers and bosses to embrace our ideas and find mutually beneficial solutions to workplace challenges.
Mastering the skill of persuasion opens greater opportunities for us because we are recognized for getting things done without making our customers or colleagues crazy. There are people who pretend to persuade but actually get things done by behaving as tyrants. Eventually, their tyrannical behavior backfires on them and good customers and gifted employees leave. Too much tyrannical behavior will cause an organization to implode.
The power of persuasion is a valuable workplace skill, so, how can we improve our ability to persuade others to see things “our way,” or, at least a better way?
Persuade like Jacques Cousteau
Roy H. Williams, author of The Wizard of Ads advises us to be more like the legendary French explorer, scientist, and filmmaker who studied the sea, Jacques Cousteau. Williams said, “The genius of Jacques Cousteau is that he pointed the camera always at the underwater cave, the shark, the sunken ship – never at himself. We experienced his undersea world and were hypnotized. Jacques took us there. The imagination can be a powerful thing, but only when the listener is a participant in your movie.”
If you want the listener to see the possibilities for success that you see, you must help them see your picture, your movie.
Here is an example of how the Jacques Cousteau Approach worked on me at my favorite women’s clothing store, Coldwater Creek.
Coldwater Creek Sales Experience #1 – No Jacques Cousteau Approach
I stopped in Coldwater Creek to check out a jacket I saw in the catalog I’d received in the mail. As I stood in front of the jacket admiring it a sales lady said to me, “That’s a nice jacket, isn’t it? I just sold one to that cute young lady over there at the counter.” Did I try it on? NO. I wasn’t in this movie; the cute young girl had the starring role.
Coldwater Creek Sales Experience #2 – With the Jacques Cousteau Approach
A week later I was killing time before a meeting and wandered back into Coldwater Creek again, still looking for a new jacket. While gazing at a jacket displayed on a mannequin, a sales lady walked by and said, “With your beautiful silver hair, you’d look fabulous in that jacket. Let me hang it in the dressing room for you to try it on.” I tried it on. Did I buy it; absolutely. It was the same jacket I’d looked at a week earlier, but this time I was the star of the movie.
If you want to be persuasive, put them in the movie.
Use Persuasive Words
Another secret to persuasion is to drop the tyrannical words and replace them with friendly words. Try these four ideas:
• Drop “My opinion” and try “I suspect.”
• Don’t use big words that alienate people or sound intellectually stuffy. It’s annoying.
• Use facts and figures in measured doses. Don’t data dump on me.
• Avoid saying, “I think” and just make the statement. Bad approach: “I think this will be easy to solve.” Better approach: “This will be easy to solve.”
Try these simple ideas to master the power of persuasion and you’ll find yourself enjoying a workday free of unrealistic and unachievable demands and deadlines.
Gina Covell Maddox is a professional speaker and communication consultant. She is the author of The Working Woman’s Rant & Rave Guidebook: Audacious Advice for Handling Everyday Workplace Challenges That Make You Want to Scream (Orange Cat Press, 2010 www.orangecatpress.com).