Persuasion: Three Keys to Effective Acknowledgement Statements

When faced with a difficult persuasion situation, acknowledging the other person’s viewpoint is critical. Why? Because doing so psychologically prepares your target to receive new information from you.

The best acknowledgement statements have the following three elements:

1. Ingratiation

Have you ever ordered in a restaurant and heard the waiter respond with, “Excellent choice!” as he nods and smiles at you? Of course, you have. And you know he’s 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 mind that says, “It is a good choice, isn’t it?”

Not only do you feel better about your order, but you feel better about your waiter for framing it as such a good order. Humans find compliments irresistible, and so will your targets when you start your acknowledgement statement with comments like these:

• Great question.

• Good point.

• Excellent insight.

Your comment should be authentic, honest and polite. No need to be effusive here; simpler is better.

2. 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,” consider responding with this: “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 then, 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; just make sure you have these “movement” components in your statement.

3. The Power of Three

Finally, tell your listener that you have three reasons why you feel the way you do. People 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 people also love lists.

By responding in this way, you’ll instantly and dramatically increase your credibility. Why? Because in a nanosecond, your target is going to think, “Now here’s someone who knows what they’re talking about! They even have three reasons!”

Putting It All Together

Here’s how the conversation referenced above will look as it plays out:

Target: “Your idea is way too expensive!”

You: ”Great point. 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 three compelling reasons why this solution makes sense.”

Then list your reasons.

That is the power of a great acknowledgement statement.

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash.

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