This morning on Twitter I posted the following:
“Trying 2 persuade w/o 1st eliciting like & trust is as futile as…as…darn, hate when I can’t come up w a clever ending. :-)”
Almost immediately, I received a bunch of terrific responses that very effectively filled in the blank that I couldn’t. Rather than listing all the great endings – there were some really good ones and I don’t want to leave anyone out due to space limitations – I’ll just say that they all had one thing in common . . .
“It simply wouldn’t work.”
And I believe they’re correct. You see, in order to persuade (actually cause someone to take action, whether physically or in their thought process, different than what they are presently set on doing or thinking) we must first inspire them to like us and to trust us. This is true even if they already like us and trust us. Because, yes, we’re also talking about family members, friends and associates as well as those we might just meet or have to deal with in a unique, one-time situation.
The quickest and most effective way to elicit these good feelings toward us is to help that person feel good about themselves.
This is perhaps the key element when it comes to the art of influence and persuasion; what I call Winning Without Intimidation.
At their most basic level, people want and desire to feel good about themselves; to feel liked, loved, respected, acknowledged, cared about, and to have a healthy self-image. When you help them to feel this way, they are more likely to feel good about you and thus be much more amenable to your ideas and suggestions.
Of course, this is where the difference between persuasion and manipulation comes into play.
As Dr. Paul Swets, author of the excellent book, The Art of Talking So That People Will Listen advises:
“Manipulation aims at control, not cooperation. It results in a win/lose situation. It does not consider the good of the other party. Persuasion is just the opposite. In contrast to the manipulator, the persuader seeks to enhance the self-esteem of the other party. The result is that people respond better because they are treated as responsible, self-directing individuals.”
The point is, as long as your intentions are pure, then making the other person feel good about themselves is the right course of action, both for its own sake, as well as for persuading that person to take the action you deem correct.
So, the next time you are attempting to persuade, consciously ask yourself, “is this person ready to be persuaded by me? Is he or she feeling good enough about themselves (thus, good about me) to move from defending their position to doing what is correct?”