During one of our Persuasion Workshops, a marketing director shifted uneasily in his seat and then sheepishly raised his hand, asking if he could rewrite a persuasion success story. So who could resist? So I eagerly gave him the floor.
He had spent time the previous evening watching American Idol with his 16 year-old daughter. This was unusual, he pointed out, because, apparently, parental relationships with teenaged daughters can be tumultuous and a bit contentious, and his, he mentioned, was no exception.
At a midway point in the program, he excused himself to get a soda and casually asked his daughter, “Can I get you one?”
She said, “Yeah, get me a Sprite.”
He returned, handed her the beverage, and with eyes fixed on the television, she robotically said, “Thanks,” to which he instantly replied, “My pleasure. You would have done the same for me.”
He was bewildered at his own comment. He said, “I don’t know where it came from. I mean, I know we talked about this yesterday, and we practiced it a bit, but I didn’t plan it. I certainly didn’t intend it. It just kind of fell out of my mouth.”
The television program finished, and his daughter got up to go to bed, and as she hit the doorway, she paused and said, “Dad, before I go up, is there anything I can do for you?”
When he relayed this story, his voice quivered with fatherly emotion, and his eyes welled with tears as he relived the experience. The other workshop participants held their breath, waiting to hear what happened next.
Finally, one person couldn’t stand the suspense, and they said, “What did you say? What did you say?”
As if returning from a fugue state, he smiled, turned to the questioner, and said, “I simply told her that she had already done enough, and said goodnight.”
Then, returning his gaze to me, he said with astonishment, “My daughter hasn’t spoken that kindly to me in months.”
And that is the power of persuasion.