While persuasion is crucial to people’s success for many reasons, they actually spend very little time and effort improving their persuasion skills.
If you’re going to thrive in the eat-or-be-eaten contemporary workplace, you must be able to effectively persuade others. This will provide you with a competitive advantage, because your competitors are more than likely not focusing on their own persuasion skills.
I call it the “Persuasion Paradox.
The Persuasion Paradox can be summarized like this: At best, many professionals take a mindless approach to persuasion. At worst, they abhor the practice of persuasion, striving to avoid it.
The mindless ones, either consciously or subconsciously, assume that just because they’ve heard people say “yes” to them — and they’ve given the same response to others — they understand the complexities of attaining agreement. This supposition couldn’t be further from the truth. The act of persuasion remains a significant obstacle for many professionals, and they might not even be aware of it. However, like failing to check your blind spot before darting out into the oncoming lane on a narrow highway to pass a slow-moving truck, ignoring this obstacle can lead to disastrous results.
The ones who abhor persuasion want nothing to do with it. They think it smacks of the dreaded word “sales” and conjures images of white shoes, plaid jackets, and glad-handing used-car salesmen. But successful people — who are neither mindless nor abhorrent, incidentally — don’t see persuasion that way. Professionals at the top of their game understand that not only is it is okay for them to promote their ideas and issues; but that it is incumbent on them to do so.
Having someone say “yes” to your ideas, offers and suggestions ranks among the greatest achievements in the business world. It represents validation, respect and acceptance among your peers and others. In author Daniel Pink’s survey of American workers, “What Do You Do at Work?” for his book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others, he discovered full-time, non-sales workers spent 24 out of every 60 minutes involved in persuasion efforts. To say effective persuasion is merely important is to make an extreme understatement.
Persuasion requires intellectual heavy lifting. Understanding your target, knowing how to increase the value of your offering (or, conversely, decrease the resistance of your target), choosing the right words, and determining the timing of your persuasive efforts all are prerequisites of effective persuasion.
So to stay ahead of your competition and succeed among your peers, work on your persuasion skills on a daily basis. Here are some terrific places to start.