In our ART of persuasive communication model we talked briefly about acknowledgement statements. These are statements you can use when faced with a difficult persuasion situation. They are crucial to your effectiveness because they psychologically prepare your target to receive new information from you and not unimportantly they build in some response time for you.

The best acknowledgement statements have the following elements:

Ingratiation

The first is ingratiation. Have you ever ordered in a restaurant only to have the waiter respond with, “Excellent choice!” as he nods and smiles at you? Of course you have. And of course you know he is saying the same thing to others. But instead of being offended that he’s giving you the “routine” there is something in the deep, dark recesses of your grey matter that flashes, “It is a good choice isn’t it?”

Now not only do you feel better about your order and but you feel better about your waiter for framing it as such. Humans find compliments irresistible, and so will your targets when you start your acknowledgement statement with comments like: Great question. Good point. Excellent insight. Your comment should be authentic, honest and polite. No need to be effusive here, simpler is better.

Movement

The next component of a great acknowledgement statement is movement. Like a Harley-Davidson motorcycle gracefully slicing through an “S” curve on a winding mountain road a great acknowledgement statement subtly moves your target to a more amenable position by thought-process modeling.

For example if the person you’re speaking with says, “Your idea is way too expensive.” You may respond with, “Great point. And I know exactly how you feel, because at one time I felt it was expensive too, but I found out some things that changed my mind, and they might change yours.”

When you tell the other person you know how they feel, you’ve put yourself in their position. The word “felt” is past tense, so now you’ve communicated that you’ve had a change of heart. And like the smooth shifting of a six-speed, constant-mesh transmission, the word “found” effortlessly moves you to your points of justification.

You can certainly use other phrasing; it doesn’t matter if you say “happy” or if you say “glad,” just make sure you have these “movement” components in your statement.

Power of Three

And finally you should tell your listener that you have three reasons why you feel as you do. We love to hear things in threes. Two seems too few, four seems too many. Plus when you say to someone you have three reasons, they’ll listen more closely, because we love lists. And you’ll instantly and dramatically increase your credibility with them. Why? Because in a nanosecond they are going to think, “Now here’s someone who knows what they’re talking about! They even have three reasons!”

Putting it All Together

So for example if someone were to say something like, “Your idea is way too expensive!” You can respond with, “”Great point. And I know exactly how you feel, because at one time I felt it was expensive too, but I found out some things that changed my mind, and they might change yours. There are really three compelling reasons why this solution makes sense.”

Now there’s more to the model and we’ll go over those ideas in other programs, but for now simply understand and internalize the psychological power of a great acknowledgement statement.