How to Be a More Persuasive Leader

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dv1492011Persuasion is one of the single most important powers a person can possess.

It moves people to action! It silences. It stops. It changes, builds, and grows people, businesses, and the world. Yes, salespeople use it in abundance. But it’s vital for managers as well.

You need to be able to get others to see things from your point of view. When there’s a problem or challenge, you need to be able to move people to a solution that’s good for everyone. Whether you’re working with an outside vendor, someone on your team, or a manager in another department, developing your powers of persuasion builds your credibility, saves time, and helps your career.

While simple in theory, persuasion is much more than simply stating your position, tossing in some supporting facts, and then asking people to do something. Persuasion is an art. It can take careful thought, preparation, and practice. It’s an assertive and skilled manager who can sit down with someone and turn the situation into a win-win for all parties involved.

Before talking about the process of persuasion, think about the types of people you find most persuasive. They’re usually enthusiastic and positive. They’re knowledgeable and clear. And we trust them. Despite the fact that they just talked you into something you hadn’t really planned on doing, you like them.

When it comes to persuasion, there’s a logical order … an opening, a body, a close, and a call to action. “Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them; tell them what you told them; ask them to act,” reminds speaker and businessman Raymond Pons in Master the Secrets of Persuasive Communication.

Here’s the process:

  1. Formulate your opening by thinking about what you’ll say last. How will you close? What do you want the other person to do? State that as your opening.

 

  1. For the body of your presentation, consider what three items matter most. What are the most compelling reasons someone will say yes to your suggestions? Support these reasons with compelling facts or statistics. What’s the cost if the problem is left unresolved? You’ll want to stop periodically to make sure the person you’re trying to persuade is in agreement with these reasons/benefits. This buy-in is critical should you need to negotiate beyond your initial suggestions.

 

  1. Next, recommend a solution. What are some options that will fix the problem? Pons recommends giving three choices. He also says it’s ok to tell people which option you personally choose. Then help the other party visualize the benefit … see the solution in action. “Our customers are going to be doing back handsprings when we make this switch….”

 

At this point, the other party may agree wholeheartedly with your suggestions, in which case you can wrap up with your call to action.

However, if you don’t reach an agreement, prepare to negotiate. Negotiation is much easier if you’ve given advance thought to the other party’s needs … if you’ve spent some thoughtful time considering what they might be looking for. Negotiating is a conversation. Ask open-ended questions to start a dialogue. Look at the problem from the other person’s perspective. Brainstorm together some possible solutions and make a list of them. Identify the most attractive options and rank them. Consider the practical side of each. Choose the best. Be prepared to compromise if you become hopelessly deadlocked. By recapping the “yes” points from the body of your earlier discussion, you can reach consensus. “We both agreed that letting this problem linger is costing the company money ….”  “We also agreed that ….”

 

  1. When you reach agreement, close the deal with a call to action such as, “Do you want to start right away or do you want to kick this off at the next team meeting?” or “Would you like to send out the email with the option we’ve chosen or would you like me to write that?”

It’s important to remember when you’re trying to persuading someone that you’re aiming at win-win. All parties should walk away feeling satisfied … like they got something they wanted. You need to be able to work with this person again. So, you can’t leave them feeling like you’ve taken advantage of them. Handled correctly, your powers of persuasion will build your relationship with the other party … they will trust you and want to work with you again.

Agree? Disagree? Add your insightful comments here.