Persuasive Communication – Knowing when not to Influence and why

Sharmila Gautama, Founder of EnglishCoach Services

In the last two newsletters, we read about how to use persuasive skills to convince people to act. In this post, let’s see when not to use influence and why.

1. Don’t push your agenda too much. This approach doesn’t work because it becomes tiring for the receiver.

We have all had friends who have tried their luck with multi-level marketing. Suddenly, all that they could talk about was only Tupperware containers, Oriflame cosmetics and Amway products. We bought stuff from them out of kindness but swore never to entertain them again.

They always seemed to be pushing their agenda – sell or convert to an agent!

2. Know when to stop. Often in our excitement to convince we fail to notice non-verbal cues. Is the audience we are trying to convince listening to us? Are they interested? It’s important to keep an eye on the listeners’ reactions. If you think you see resistance, don’t go further. It is in your interest to take this up at another time.

3. Avoid conflict. If your intuition tells you that this is going to get argumentative, stop. Once you are on the wrong side, it is very difficult to get onto the right side. An impression has already been formed in the mind of the other person. They have labelled you, and it will take time to change their perception.

4. Don’t flatter. This is probably the worst way to try and influence someone. It is obvious and not sincere. People can see through flattery and decisions are rarely made based on this.

5. Persistence does not pay. Persistence is a good behaviour when it comes to personal achievements, but when you need to influence don’t use this. It can be a big put-off.

6. Assumptions are roadblocks. Assumptions withhold us from giving the information that is required to make a decision. There are two reasons for this – we haven’t done enough to find out the other person’s interests or are not convinced about what we are offering.

7. Insufficient data or statistics to support what you are saying. This is the worst situation to be in because you are weak in your preparation. Having information gives you confidence and conviction to influence.

8. Resisting compromise. Sometimes letting go of a piece of the pie is helpful in getting a larger share. Understand what you can let go of to gain something better. Here let me use the word influence because this keeps in mind the final outcome, while persuasion may not always have the complete buy-in of the person. Most often we decide to compromise when we want to influence someone, especially in parenting.

9. Putting your personal considerations first. This is a common mistake in most relationships. We always try to influence from a place of what drives us personally. Take a step back and persuade from the other’s perspective. Some questions to ask are: is this going to be of value to the other person too? Do they see this initiative as gainful? Do they see this as my victory?

10. Referring to consequences as a default of persuasion. This is a common error made in parenting. It is also used at appraisal time as bait to perform better. Sometimes people fail to see the consequences that are going to be experienced at a far-off time. Avoid keeping this as your only approach to influence.

Written by Sharmila Gautama, Founder of EnglishCoach Services

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