In recent posts, I wrote about three ways to acknowledge another person’s viewpoint and three ways to respond to that viewpoint.
Those are the first two steps in what I call the “ART” of persuasive communication. “A” stands for acknowledging, “R” stands for responding and “T” stands for transitioning. In this post, I will focus on moving the conversation to the next logical step with effective transition statements.
The goal here is to obtain agreement — or commitment — on whatever issue you’re talking about, while at the same time not appearing overly aggressive. For some people, commitments are threatening, and some questions used in an attempt to obtain commitment can be interpreted as intimidating: So do want to do it? Should we go ahead with this? Would you like to sign off now?
The easiest way to overcome all of 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 casually say: “What do you think?”
Everyone has an opinion and most are eager to share theirs. When you ask “What do you think?” the person you’re speaking with will more than likely respond — either in the negative or in the affirmative.
This might be one response: “I never thought of the things you mentioned; I see now how this idea makes sense.” When that happens, move the conversation toward securing a commitment.
Say something like this:
• “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 the travel team make the arrangements, and we’ll go visit the client next week. What day would you like to go?”
Note that each of these responses ends with a request for a commitment.
Of course, your “What do you think?” question could go the other way, too.
Your target might respond with this: “I don’t know. I’m still not convinced.” When that happens, you don’t want to ask for commitment, because you’re almost assured of hearing “no.”
In this case, you may want to keep the idea alive a bit longer. Say something like this: “I understand completely. Here’s what I’m going to recommend. Don’t say ‘yes’ and don’t say ‘no’ right away; let’s just make sure we both understand clearly what it is we’re talking about and be willing to discuss it further. Fair enough?”
When you present your case in that manner, I like your chances.
This Acknowledge, Respond and Transition model can work wonders and should be a part of every persuasive skill set.