So many people spend so much time trying to “win” conversations…
And, in certain scenarios, most often at work, winning points in a debate or meeting, landing concessions in a collective bargaining agreement, winning deal points or beating someone up verbally until they give-in to avoid further abuse may lead to a certain amount of professional advancement (not a fan of the last tactic).
But, that’s not what I’m talking about here…
What I AM talking about is persuading someone to genuinely agree with your point of view or idea. Sitting face-to-face with one person, engaging them in respectful conversation and leaving the table having convinced that person to see the world differently or change the way they view a particular situation.
There are so many strategies and tactics that can make this go easier but critical to your success is your ability to minimize what you do wrong and sidestep conversational landmines in order to maximize the effect of what you do right. So, here are…
7 critical mistakes to avoid when trying to persuade someone to your point of view:
- Don’t Attack – When you verbally attack either a person or their point of view, you immediately raise their defensive shields. This makes not only more likely to become combative out of a sense of pride and consistency (more on this), it also makes them less susceptible to persuasion. It may work as part of a deliberate negotiation strategy when trying to score points at a deal table, but when you’re face to face with someone you want to actually buy into your point of view, it’s a persuasion-killer.
- Don’t fail to acknowledge and validate another person’s right to believe what they believe – You may want them to emerge from the conversation with a different opinion, but their experience in life has led them to the point of view they hold today. If you summarily dismiss their point of view and their right to hold onto it out of the gate, you effectively dismiss the experiences, thought processes and work that have led them to feel the way they feel. People will almost always read that as a personal attack and, just like above, raise their shields and shut down their ears.
- Don’t fail to anticipate and address objections – People feel a strong need to act and speak in a way that is consistent with their prior actions and statements. So, the moment you try to persuade them away from a position they’ve already done something about or said something about, they’ll very likely offer up objections, in part, as a way to avoid having to do or say something that’s inconsistent with past actions and statements. Brainstorm all potential objections and be ready to respond to them in logical, non-emotional, factual way that is (a) not a personal attack and, (b) based largely on evidence that’s irreffutable by either of you.
- Don’t skip building rapport, trust, credibility – Often, especially when people have strongly held convictions, they’ll launch into an argument in support of those convictions, before allowing the person on the other side of the conversation to (a) get comfortable with who they are, (b) build rapport and likeability, which is a tremendous aid in the effort to persuade, and (c) establish enough credibility in an area to allow the other person to feel comfortable deferring to your knowledge base. Take the time to establish these elements in the conversation BEFORE launching into your campaign to persuade and you’ll find others far more receptive to your point of view.
- Don’t forget to to adequate research – Be informed and prepared with the latest, most relevant information. The more you can argue facts, the less you have to rely on theories and emotions and the more you can give the other person valid justifications for arriving at your point of view.
- Don’t shut yourself down to being persuaded yourself – This may surprise you, we’re not always right. Be open to the notion that in your attempt to persuade someone to your point of view, they may have information or arguments that are new to you and may, in fact, end up winning you over. In the end, it’s not so much about winning as it is about arriving at the most informed and intelligent conclusion together.
- Don’t say don’t – By now, you may have realized that by simply removing the word “don’t” from each of these points, you’d end up with seven things to “do,” rather than 7 mistakes to avoid. And, by the time you got to this point, you may have been feeling a bit edgy or less receptive after being told “don’t” do this or that six times already. I used the word “don’t” to make a point. Because using the word changes the energy of a conversation from positive and expansive to negative and restrictive. It can have the effect of turning a conversation into an unintended scolding. So, to the extent you can phrase your statements and questions using positive, rather than negative or restrictive language, “do” it!
In general, a great approach is to enter into the conversation armed and ready to persuade, but open to the opportunity to learn, grow and connect. Make it more about the quest for the best knowledge than the desire to win.
So, what about you?
What do YOU think about these tips?
What other advice, strategies or tactics have helped you win hearts and minds?
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