The New Stuff

Jul 10

The Art of Persuasion.

There is a common saying that, if you are a manager, then you have to get others to do their work. The others could be your bosses, peers, subordinates, suppliers, and even customers and so on. If you are not capable of pushing others to do what you want, it is going to be rather difficult for you, particularly to go up the corporate ladder! Thus, it is obvious that the higher you climb up the organisational ladder, the greater the number and range of people you have to manage and align with your goals.

However, as a manager, you are also aware that it is not that easy to manage people at any level. Seldom we have the so called power over people whose ideas, thoughts, and behaviours we want to control. Even if some control is achieved it is not very sure whether the end results will turn out to be effective or even counter-productive? The old adage, that you can only lead a horse to the source of water but cannot make it drink signifies the limitations of using any force as a means of getting others to do what you want.

According to Dr Monippally, Prof. of Communication at IIM(A), there are three ways  to which one can get others’ compliance;

 (1) First is to ensure that others to do what they are supposed to do. But if they don’t play well then there are  all possibilities that you also will not be able to  perform yours either,

(2) Second is getting others’ to change their ideas, attitudes, and behaviour to cope up with changing the environment. But in this process also, if the people don’t change then you will be tempted to use some coercive power which may sometimes backfire,

(3) The third and smarter way is resorting to `Persuasion’ ie; an attempt using one or more means such as reasoning and emotional appeal, to change other people’s thinking, attitudes, and eventually behaviour in a way that builds on their cooperation on a longer period. The third method is difficult and tough. But once individuals are persuaded, then you need not worry about any sabotage.

What is Persuasion?

To persuade means, `to move by an argument’ or `the process by which a person’s attitudes or behaviour are influenced by communications from the other person’ (Encyclopedia Britannica).  It is an act of influencing a person’s belief, attitudes, intentions, motivation, and behaviour. Changing minds, behaviour and attitude of people are tough and difficult. But Persuasion is a deliberate attempt or activity which leads to an influence without using any external force or coercion. In other words, it the ability of getting others to see things as you see them.

To make the process of Persuasion successful and satisfactory, one needs to persuade the right partner, co-worker, investor or even the right customer. People should do things not because they are afraid or forced to do some unpleasant activities. They should do because they are convinced that they are doing the right things.

 Persuasion as a Technique

Persuasion, as a technique of getting things done, has the following advantages:

·         Getting the consent and compliance of others is essential for any manger’s success and professional growth

·         Attitude or behaviour changes of people will be a natural and long-term one

·         There is no need for any monitoring or supervising by the persuader

·         The acceptance will be a natural one and hence end results will be beneficial to both the parties

·         Act of Persuasion leads to build better cooperation and rapport among team members

·         Persuasion may be time-consuming but it enables to protect  managers and organisations from any surprises and setbacks

·         Very good development of mutual trust between and among stakeholders

Persuasion as a Business Communication Tool

Business Development Managers can use Persuasion as an effective tool for improving their communications with stakeholders. To implement Persuasion as an effective tool, one needs to:

(1)    Plan very systematically ie; identify the contexts where it will work, analyse the situations and choose an appropriate combination of Persuasion technique as a strategy:

(2)  Keep track on the success or failure of your experiences so that you can make improvements while dealing with people, in future.

 Some of the salient points one need to keep in mind,  for a successful Persuasion include;

·         Ensure that your views and points  are expressed with certainty along with a positive attitude,

·         Maintain a consistent and confident atmosphere while expressing views,

·         Provide all information complete, full and with proven facts,

·         Ensure that information provided are truthful and accurate,

·         Respect the views, ideas and thoughts of the other person,

·         Information provided should be in relevance to the conversation or topic that is being discussed,

·         Information to be expressed in an easy and understandable manner using appropriate tone and also non-verbal gestures supporting the statements made.

·         Make a point to reciprocate some of the favours in return to develop a long-term mutual relationship.

Persuasion is the art of making attitudinal and behavioural changes in people and getting them to do things that are in their own best interest that also benefit us. Once US President, Dwight D Eisenhower stated `` I would rather try to persuade a man to go along because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.’’             

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KRISHNAN RAMAN

Corporate Trainer


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