To finish conversations about the ART of persuasive communication we need to talk about transition statements. ART stands for acknowledge your target’s opposition, responding in an honest, substantive and compelling manner and then transition to the next logical step moving the conversation forward.
For me transition statements really take a few different forms. The first is opinion then commitment. The goal here is really getting an agreement on whatever issue it is you’re talking about. And at the same time, you don’t want to appear overly aggressive.
For some commitments are threatening and can be interpreted as aggressive. So do want to do it? Should we go ahead? Would you like to sign off on this now? See, it can be intimidating.
So the easiest way to overcome that is by asking an opinion question first, gauging your target’s demeanor and then deciding how to proceed. The fastest way to ask for an opinion is to simply and casually ask, “What do you think?” Everyone has an opinion and most are champing at the bit to share theirs. So when you ask “what do you think?” the person your speaking with will more than likely respond either in the negative or in the affirmative.
If you say, “what do you think?” and the other person says, “I never thought of the things you mentioned, I see now how this idea makes sense.” Then you should really move the conversation on to your commitment. “Great! If you like, I’ll have the purchase order on your desk before the close of business today.” “Terrific, would you like me to tell the marketing group to get the agency started on the campaign.” “Fantastic, I’ll have travel make the arrangements and we’ll go visit the client next week. What day would you like to go?” Notice these are then questions that ask for the commitment. For those of you who are more Philly than Fargo, my term to describe the continuum of assertiveness, you can simply direct instead of asking. It’s really what best fits your personality or your situation.
The other way this can go is you may ask, “What do you think?” and the other person may say, “I don’t know, I’m still not convinced.” Well here you don’t want to ask for the commitment because you’re almost assured a “no” response. In this case, you may want to keep the idea alive a bit longer. As an aside, in many organizations this is a key to making your ideas a reality. So you could say something like this, “Understand completely. Here’s what I’m going to recommend. Don’t say “yes,” don’t say “no,” just make sure we both understand clearly what it is we’re talking about and let’s be willing to discuss it further. Fair enough?”
And when presented in that fashion, I like your chances.
This acknowledge, respond and transition model has terrific utility and should be a part of every persuasive skill set.