4 Essential Steps of Persuasion




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Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

4 Essential Steps of Persuasion

Persuasion involves moving people to a position they don't currently hold. In the workplace, effective persuasion should be a negotiating and learning process through which a persuader leads colleagues to a problem's shared solution. A persuasion process involves four (4) steps: establishing credibility, framing to find common ground, providing vivid evidence, and connecting emotionally.
  • Step #1 ESTABLISH CREDIBILITY
    People only follow who they trust. However, research suggests that most managers lack credibility considerably. In the workplace, credibility grows out of two sources: expertise and relationships.
    • People are considered having a high level of expertise if they have a record of sound judgement or have proven themselves knowledgeable and well informed about their proposals. If your area of weakness is on the expertise side, you have several options:
      Learn more about the complexities of your position through either formal or informal education and through conversations with knowledgeable people.
      Hire someone to bolster your expertise, who may have the knowledge and experience required to support your position effectively. Similarly, you can tap experts within your organisation to advocate your position. Their credibility becomes a substitute for your own.
      Use other outside sources of information to support your position, such as respected business or trade periodicals, and independently produced reports.
      Launch pilot projects to demonstrate on a small scale your expertise and the value of your ideas.
    • On the relationship side, people who are known to be honest, steady, and reliable have an edge when going into any persuasion situation. Because their relationships are robust, they are more apt to be given the benefit of the doubt. As for filling in the relationship gap, take the following actions:
      Make a concerted effort to meet one-on-one with all the key people you plan to persuade. This is the opportunity to get a range of perspectives on the issue at hand.
      Involve like-minded coworkers who already have strong relationships with your audience. Again, that is a matter of seeking substitutes on your own behalf.
  • Step #2 FRAME FOR COMMON GROUND
    Effective persuaders must be adept at describing their positions in terms that illuminate their advantages. Persuasive framing is about identifying shared tangible benefits.
    At the heart of framing is a solid understanding of your audience. The best persuaders use conversations, meetings, and other forms of dialogue to collect key information of the issues that matter to their colleagues. They test their ideas with trusted confidants and ask questions of the people they will later be persuading. This process often causes them to alter or compromise their own plans before they starting to persuading. It is through this thoughtful, inquisitive approach they develop frames that appeal to their audience.
  • Step #3 PROVIDE EVIDENCE
    With credibility established and a common frame identified, persuasion becomes a matter of presenting evidence. The most effective persuaders supplement numerical data with examples, stories, metaphors, and analogies to make their positions come alive.
    Numbers are too abstract to be completely meaningful or memorable and don't make an emotional impact. Stories and vivid language allow listeners absorb information more easily, particularly when they present comparable situations to the one under discussion.
  • Step #4 CONNECT EMOTIONALLY
    Research shows people always use emotions rather than reason to make decisions. Good persuaders are aware of the primacy of emotions and respond to them.
    First, effective persuaders show their own emotional commitment to the position they are advocating. More important, they sense their audience's emotional state accurately and adjust the tone of their argument accordingly. Whatever your position, you match your emotional fervour to your audience's ability to receive the message.
Persuasion pulls people together, moves ideas forward, galvanizes change, and forges constructive solutions. To do all that, people must understand persuasion for what it is, not convincing and selling but learning and negotiating. In addition, it must be seen as an art form that requires commitment and practice.

⇨ Do you have any comment on these 4 steps in persuasion? 🤓

Source: Conger, J., 1998. The Necessary Art of Persuasion. Harvard Business Review.
 

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