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Influencing Skills - Being Right is Not Enough to Win

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Posted 23 March 2011 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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You may find the following will help with your Persuasive Communication skills training.

Influencing skills

Being right is not enough to win

You can be right and still lose.
You can be right and still lose if you use the wrong tactics.

If you are right, but you word your message carelessly then you could easily lose-out to a person with a weaker idea, but who can explain it properly.

So, it is important to have two things in your favour:

  1. A good idea
  2. The ability to explain it in such a way that it is, understandable, attractive and memorable

Equally, it is important NOT to trigger any negative emotional responses in the listener.

Remember that people will judge things both,

  1. Logically and
  2. Emotionally

And frequently the emotional part of them will dominate their final decision.

So, is a short list of DO and DON'T s to enhance your chances of winning, as a communicator.

A short list of DON'T s

1. DON'T be too pushy

Have you ever heard the saying, "pushy sales man"?
People can be TOO pushy, sometimes.

Nobody likes to be pushed.

If you push someone too hard, eventually he will push back, won't he

So, try to be a little more subtle.

For instance, if a woman wants her man to change his shirt before they go out for the evening, she might say "Go and change your shirt, before we go out."

But now she sounds like his MOTHER!

Instead she might ask (with that special look in her eye), "Darling, are you going to wear that grubby work shirt tonight or are you going to wear that lovely purple shirt I bought you at Christmas?

We all know which shirt he will be wearing, but he thinks it was his idea!

2. Don't neglect to prepare

Don't neglect to prepare your answers to three questions about any idea you have.

The three questions for which you must prepare answers for are:

i. What exactly is the essence of this idea, in a nutshell?

You should have a way of expressing your idea in its essence. Reduce your idea to a one liner, if possible. This is the attention grabber: the hook. Without it your listener will attempt to avoid hearing the longer version.

ii. What benefit does it offer

You have got to demonstrate quickly, how this will benefit the listener: assume for a moment that most people (deep down) are self-interested. If your idea isn't going to benefit them, they are less interested.

So you must make that point quickly.

iii. How would one put it into practice

It must be shown how it will work in practice.
If it is a good idea but seems impractical, then it will be ignored.

You must show HOW it can be done.
If you can and do answer these three questions, you are doing well as a communicator.
If you cannot answer them, you are not!

3. Don't argue for entertainment value

Some people just love to argue.

They treat it like a sport.

They think they are "the champ" when they beat other people in arguments; which is fine, except they don't actually win any prize worth having. Instead, such types win the reputation for being argumentative and difficult company; which does not make them "the champ".

Don't be afraid to argue your case; argue strongly for the things you believe in.

But balance that with being "agreeable", most of the time.

Argue only about things that are important.

Don't argue about trivia.

It the guy asserts that East Enders is better than Coronation Street, then smile serenely and cordially agree.

Part two: the List of DO's

Do prepare your message
Your parents told you to think before you speak. That is sage advice.
Choose your words carefully. For example, what if you meant to say.

"What's troubling you?"

But what you actually said was: "What's wrong with you?"

What if you meant to say "I am sorry, I was wrong?"

But you said, "You started it!"

Words create pictures in the mind of your listener.
And the pictures trigger emotions.
So think carefully about the pictures that your words are painting.
Are they consistent with the results that you want?

The key to your improved communication is your realisation that words create pictures in the mind.

Paint good pictures!

4. Get the timing right

You can have the right idea - but at the wrong time.

Pick your moment!
As Victor Hugo wrote: "There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."

Don't try to sell your idea if your listener is distracted, or in a bad mood, or in company.

Sell your idea when your listener is:

  1. In a receptive mood,
  2. in need of answers
  3. and more ready to listen

Tony Curtis said it like this: My longevity is due to my good timing.

5. Repeat, repeat, repeat

Please remember that most of what people hear goes in one ear and out the other.

Most of what you see and hear is forgotten.

UNLESS

  1. It is important
  2. Is unusual
  3. It is shocking
  4. Or it is repeated

Remember that.

So, in order to get your message into the memory bank of the person you are trying to persuade, you will almost certainly have to repeat it.
Repeat it at least five times!

Dominic O Brian eight times world memory champion says that he must review material five times or more, before it sticks in the memory
And he was the world number one memory man.

You must go over it more than once if you want it to stick in the mind.

As Napoleon Bonaparte said:

"It has been my observation that, Repetition is the strongest argument"

Then he said it again!

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