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6 Persuasion Strategies To Help Others And Get What You Want

6 Persuasion Strategies To Help Others And Get What You Want

Have you ever noticed that just about everything we do in our lives and the results we achieve revolve around our ability to persuade and influence others? From getting your four year old to put their toys away, to getting someone you admire to go out with you, to convincing someone to employ you or simply getting your wife to leave the toilet seat up, we are doing it all day.

Interestingly, it’s something that we can’t avoid and is vital to our success, yet most people don’t want to talk about it. Many of us associate the concept of persuasion as something reserved for the call centre or the car showroom when it’s actually a far nobler pursuit.

Persuasion is about getting others to do what you know is in their best interests, and once you’ve learned how to do so, you often get to benefit too. Here are some suggestions to help you become better at the art of persuasion.

1. Think in tweets

We are all subjected to thousands of demands for our attention every day. Many of us are overwhelmed with emails at home and at work, text messages, media advertising, and incessant demands from our colleagues, customers, and our boss.

When you are trying to persuade anyone to do anything that you know will serve them well, they will tune you out if you drown them with more “noise.” Your message has to be simple, clear, and compelling. Summarise what you have to say that will help them in the form of a mindfully crafted tweet.

For example, when people ask me why they should consider buying my book Hamster to Harmony, this is what I tell them, using the tweet approach:

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“Some of us find ourselves wishing, hoping and dreaming for more. This book is for those who are tired of tiptoeing their way through life.”

2.  Focus on the goal

If you are going to persuade anyone to do anything, you need to have a very clear goal. That goal should contain how you want people to feel. You can talk all day long but if the people you are speaking to don’t connect emotionally with your words, they are unlikely to act.

I once worked for a CEO who insisted on calling the entire team together at 8:30 AM every Monday morning every week for a three-hour meeting. His goal was to ensure that he understood everything that had happened in the business the previous week and to ensure the team was focused on the new week.

It was a clear goal but it only served to make the executive team resent him and dread the Monday morning “inquisition.” Persuading him to switch to the Monday afternoon for an hour satisfied his goal but in a way that left him feeling that he was building his executive team rather than alienating them.

3. Make it about them

In the above example, the CEO was a very exacting and anxious man who needed to feel in absolute control, and he needed to feel that at the very start of the week. There was no point trying to persuade him to change those meetings without understanding what he needed and how any change to his preferred start of the week would impact him.

Once he understood the adverse impact that having such long, repetitive, and arduous meetings first thing on a Monday morning were having on his team, he was prepared to listen. More importantly, he was only persuaded to shift the meeting to a more sensible time when he felt he would have even more control through a management team who were given the space to at least gather their thoughts.

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4. Watch your language

Choose your words carefully to ensure that your audience not only understand your message, but feel it makes a significant difference.

In the current American presidential election campaign, Donald Trump is trying to get people to vote for him by using words like:

“Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.”

Hillary Clinton has chosen to use words such as:

“We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one.”

Donald Trump appears to be trying to persuade his audience using the language of fear whilst conversely Hillary Clinton chooses words of hope.

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5. Play nicely

Remember when you were a child and you asked your mother if you could go outside to play with your friends? If she was anything like mine, you probably heard something like, “Yes, but play nicely.”

Those were powerful words from our mothers, and evidence that she understood the keys to a life of connection, success, and happiness. She also understood that if you were “likeable” enough, you could increase your chances of persuading anyone to do anything.

Playing nicely as adults and professionals is the same today as when we were small children. It involves smiling, listening carefully, being kind, being generous, and paying compliments.

6. Share a vision

As I began my long, hard journey to climb the corporate ladder over 30 years ago, my boss told me something which I didn’t realise at the time would have a profound impact on me personally and professionally. He said: “The only people who need to be motivated are the people who can’t see a future and it’s your job as their leader to help them to see a future.”

That one simple truth has always held great wisdom and power for me and I believe it’s at the heart of persuasion and influence.

The idea of persuading anyone to do anything must not only be based on their best interest but also offer them a glimpse of the possibilities and opportunities available to them. If you can help someone to see and feel a brighter future, no matter how small your idea or suggestion, you are more likely to succeed.

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I believe that if you embrace these 6 simple strategies you will learn to master the art of persuasion. Whilst you consider and practice these principles, please don’t follow the advice that some suggest as the means to successfully persuading people to do things.

1. Don’t create scarcity

Unless something is genuinely likely to soon become unavailable and you really don’t want someone to miss out on the benefits of the opportunity, don’t pretend it’s scarce.

2. Don’t be overbearing

Healthy persistence is one thing, but there is nothing worse than someone becoming a pest by repeatedly calling on you when you have already made your perspective very clear.

3. Don’t give to get

Reciprocity, similar to persistence, is a principle which can persuade people to respond positively to you and act on your idea. That said, if you give something to someone with the sole objective of receiving something in return, that isn’t good practice and something I would avoid.

4. Don’t rush them

Have you ever noticed that a magician or stage hypnotist will often try to rush a participant to choose the first answer that pops into their mind? If you have, then it’s worth knowing that the reason they do that is to increase the likelihood of you saying what they have already planted in your mind. When you are trying to persuade someone to do something that is genuinely in their own best interests, there is rarely, if ever, a need to rush them.

Featured photo credit: Endostock via dreamstime.com

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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