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Tag Archives: persuasion

Communicating upward? Think bullet points

I’ve written in the past about how it’s important to modify your approach when you’re communicating upward, including in this column – How to persuade and influence senior management – that I wrote for CFM&D Magazine.  I was reminded of it recently when I overheard a leader in a client organization giving advice to one of his staff.  He said:

“When a senior manager asks you the time, don’t describe how a watch works”.  

I chuckled to myself because it was such an apt description for the deep pit that so many subject matter experts stumble into.

Don’t “vomit data”

As managers rise in the leadership ranks in organizations, by necessity, they need to focus more on strategic issues and less on the minutiae.  So they count on the subject matter experts around them to study the details and make recommendations.  Continue reading

To make the sale, show value to your buyer

What does it take to make the sale?  I’ve always believed that if you want people to buy — buy your product, or your service, or even you — then you need to show them, clearly, in brilliant technicolour, the compelling value that you have to offer.  Which means that you do whatever it takes to help them see, first-hand, what it is that you or your product or your service does to meet their needs or make their lives easier.  If you want to make the sale to me, then you need to show me what value I receive.  Yet I come across so many people who don’t get this!  A few years ago, I blogged about the leasing agent to tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to rent an apartment without letting me see it.  She was too lazy to even let me see the inside of an apartment that she wanted me to lease; apparently the photos she posted on the Internet should have been sufficient.

She wanted me to buy without telling me what I was going to receive!

ETA words in thought cloud over man or person thinking of estimaWell a few weeks ago, I came across a similar situation, this time with Dell, the computer folks.  My hard drive failed (a story in itself) and in order to restore my system we had to contact Dell to get them to send the USB recovery key.

“It will cost $27” said the unhelpful lady on the phone.

“Okay, when can I expect to receive it?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you until you pay for it.”

“If I can’t get it in a couple of day, tops, then I’ll go in another direction.  So I need to know the expected delivery date in order to make my decision as to whether to get it or not” Continue reading

Become more persuasive by applying the action story-telling technique

DramaTriangleI often write in the blog about what it takes to become more persuasive in the workplace (including this column I wrote last year for Profit Magazine).  A few weeks ago, one of my professional colleagues offered me a perspective I’ve never considered before, one that caught my attention enough that I want to share it with you.  She said that when you seek to influence others, you can make your message more persuasive simply by adapting the classic villain-victim-hero action story-telling technique.  Let me explain.

The customary formula for writing an action story requires that you have at least one villain, one victim and one hero.  And you can do the same for the business world.  But when you adapt this formula for the workplace, Continue reading

Positive phrasing is more powerful than negative

positive or negative optimism or pessimism bright side of life pIn last week’s post titled Don’t inadvertently send mixed messages, I talked about one reason employees don’t do what you expect and want them to. In today’s post, I decided to address another factor that can get in the way to people acting on your message – namely, your phrasing. If you want your communication to be more effective, if you want the likelihood that the action you desire will occur, then always choose to phrase your statements positively rather than in the negative. Why? Because positive phrasing is more compelling than negative. People are more likely to act, to do what you request, when you tell them what you want rather than what you don’t want.

So instead of saying Don’t miss the deadline or we’ll hear from the corporate office, you could say Please have your report turned in by Friday so that we meet the corporate deadline. This switch to positive phrasing makes a huge difference. In the first negative version you’re focusing on what you don’t want to happen and the negative consequences if it does. In the second positive phrasing, the focus is on what you should do and the positive outcome.

People don’t like to hear what they cannot do, what they did wrong, or what they ought to do, yet ironically, without realizing it, we provide instructions, directions, or enforce policies and procedures that do just that. Continue reading

Don’t inadvertently send mixed messages!

MixedMessageLast fall, my column for Profit Magazine on the five-step method for crystal-clear communication focused on how to give directions to employees in a way that they understood and acted – the first time. In today’s post, I decided to talk about why employees might not understand and act in the first place, specifically about the confusion that arises from mixed messages.

A mixed message is a cavernous disconnect between what you say and what you do, and quite frankly, it confuses your people. And when your people are confused, your credibility drops like a rock. An example is the manager who says “Don’t be afraid to tell me when something goes wrong” but then has a minor meltdown when an employee does exactly that. The poor confused employee doesn’t know whether it’s okay to tell his supervisor when something goes wrong, or whether he should keep quiet. And the manager loses credibility in the eyes of the employee. Mixed messages happen amongst peers as well. Have you ever met the co-worker who says “I’m open to feedback” but then gets silent and morose for the rest of the day when you offer her some advice? Does she really want feedback, or are you better off keeping your advice to yourself? Mixed messages are confusing! Continue reading

What does it take to become more persuasive?

Okay, I’m super pumped! Today marks my first column for ProfitGuide.com, the online version of Profit Magazine, a Canadian business magazine aimed at entrepreneurs, focusing on how to find opportunity and seize it, management practices, case studies and access to peer groups. Today’s column is titled How to become a persuasive triple-threat and explores what it takes to get more people to buy your ideas.

ProfitGuide Continue reading

One phrase that can sabotage your credibility

ThumbsDownI’ve blogged previously about how we sometimes use phrases that cause us to be viewed by others as tentative, unsure, and hesitant, and thus inadvertently minimize our power, credibility and impact. See Phrases that diminish your power of persuasion. I heard another one recently – “This won’t take more than just a minute.”

It was said by someone who intended to be helpful, but I observed how this seemingly innocuous phrase not only set the stage for failure, but also diminished the value of what this person was offering. Continue reading

Use this phrase for more effective communication

Two irrefutable truths about effective communication:

  1. Effective communication involves both speaking and listening, preferably equably between two parties.
  2. When it’s your turn to speak, it’s also your responsibility to ensure that the message is heard and received by the other person.

Red Flashing LightLet’s look at #2 more closely.  Despite the fact that it happens often, ensuring that the message is heard and received by someone else does NOT involve speaking louder and faster!  Instead, it’s about setting the stage so that your listener is willing to hear what you have to say, and to be open-minded enough to consider your point of view.  In previous blog posts, I’ve written about not making people defensive and focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want, both approaches to increase the likelihood that the other person will hear and act on what you have to say.

Another tactic to improve another person’s listening ability is to prepare him/her – give him/her notice about what’s coming up – by using the phrase “Let me tell you why that is important.”  This is akin to putting a flashing light in the middle of a conversation.  Perhaps the person you are speaking to has drifted away and isn’t listening carefully.  By using this phrase, you are letting him/her know that they need to check back in and pay attention. Continue reading

How to persuade and influence senior management

CFMD_OctNov2013As your skills as an exceptional leader and communicator grow, your level of interaction with your organization’s senior management will increase as well.  You’ll find yourself in situations where your ability to persuade and influence others will stand you in good stead.  For continued success, it’s important to realize that how and what you communicate needs to adapt to fit differing audiences.  Specifically, you need to adjust your message and method of delivery so that it’s relevant and meaningful for an audience of senior managers.  And this is exactly the subject of an article I was recently invited to write for the Canadian Facility Management and Design Magazine.

Selling to Senior Executives was penned as part of the magazine’s regular Management Memo column, and in it, I offer four suggestions to significantly increase the likelihood that a facility manager’s message is heard, respected and acted upon.  Continue reading

Phrases that diminish your power of persuasion

PersuasionAre you inadvertently sabotaging your power of persuasion by using words that make you seem unsure, hesitant, tentative, or unassertive?  You might be.  Here are some phrases that you should never have in your business vocabulary:

  • I might be wrong but …: the moment you utter this, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to listen to the rest of what you have to say.  If you might be wrong, then there’s no point in bothering to pay attention, is there?!
  • You know … (as in We need to, you know, report the safety violation): it either gets perceived as you seeking approval, or it comes across as superior and lecturing.  Either way, not an outcome you want. Continue reading