Influencing and persuading

December 19th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

Two parents raise a child in the same household, enforcing the same rules. One parent gets cheerful compliance, and the other gets resistance. Why?

Two managers work together running a business. All employees work regularly for both of them. When the first manager needs extra help and asks people to work late, they do so willingly. When the other manager makes the same request the next week, the employees make excuses for why they can’t work late. What is the reason?

Why are we willing to say yes to someone’s request but resist the same request from someone else?

How do you get people to say yes to your request? How do you convince others about something that you want done? Here are some tips:

What is in it for them?

People usually make decisions based on a simple analysis of the costs and benefits. They are mostly motivated to accept or reject an idea either out of their need to avoid pain or their desire to benefit and gain.

Before presenting an idea or a project to someone, ask yourself: “What’s in it for them?” That is, what do they stand to lose if they don’t implement your idea, and what do they stand to gain if they choose to go your way?

A few years ago, I worked in an organization that was going through some financial difficulties. To set up a new lab, I needed some funding. I had to persuade the decision makers to give me the necessary financial support during a tough financial period. To convince them, I showed them how many training and revenue opportunities we would miss, and how much revenue we could generate by setting up and funding this lab. It was clear to them that the money spent would bring a good return on investment. I also made clear to them that the cost of inaction was greater than the cost of action. Within six months, the lab was set up.

Create a sense of reciprocity – If you do me a favor, I owe you a favor.

When you render a service to someone, they feel they owe you something. As a result, they will likely support you or say yes to your request. For example, when someone invites you to a wedding party, you feel obliged to return this favour by inviting them back. If someone gives you a gift, you feel indebted to him or her.

Asking, “who can I help around me?” is a good starting point. When you help and support people to advance their goals, you create a sense of reciprocity. Because of that, chances are they will support you in the future and say yes to your requests.

Build Credibility – Credibility increases compliance

Would you support a person who has constantly let you down?

Would you believe a person who didn’t usually keep their word?

Would you buy into the idea of a person who lacked confidence?

Would you be persuaded by a person who is not an expert in their field?

Most probably the answer is “no”. Why? The person does not inspire trust.

To build credibility, you need to:

  • Only make commitments that you can and will keep.  When we neglect our commitments, we create distrust.
  • Examine your motives. Ask why you want this idea. Are you serving or self-serving?
  • Deliver results. Failing to deliver results undermines people’s trust in you. The level of trust people put in you depends on your track records. When you promise, deliver results – not excuses.

Finally, for others to believe in you and buy into your ideas, you must be able to believe in yourself and your ideas. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?  Many times the problem is not with the idea but the one who presents the idea.

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