The best way to minimize the likelihood of taking a foolish persuasion risk is to ask questions first and seek agreement later.
“What’s your view on the new ad campaign?”
“In your opinion, are new research protocols available that can accelerate the time to market?”
“What’s your take on my performance?”
“What’s your position on the new project?”
You’ll notice that these questions all share a common theme: They ask the target for their opinion, but they don’t ask for a commitment. Commitments are threatening; they require a line to be drawn and force a decision.
People are reluctant to make commitments quickly. On the other hand, opinions are easy to make and quickly shared. If you ask others for their opinions first, you will receive important clarifying information about your target’s thinking processes and be able to minimize the odds of hearing “no.”
Everybody has an opinion, and most people are willing to share them. If you ask me for my opinion, I can’t help but like you more. It’s as immutable as the law of gravity.