The secret I want to talk about today is how to master the silky art of persuasion. The one skill alone, once you learn and master it, will give you great powers over anyone. Knowing how to overcome another person’s resistance to your ideas can help you to achieve success, make more money and get anything you want! Most people think that they can normally persuade others using only logic. This is possible if the other person’s opposition is rational. But usually people will resist your ideas for irrational reasons. The only way you can do to fight irrational opposition is to set aside logic, encourage your opponent to express his feelings, and let the flaws in his point of view expose themselves. When your opponent begins to ask questions rather than simply make statements, you know that he is ready to consider your ideas.
To make a person see things your way, he must be in a state of receptivity to receive your idea. This state of receptivity will depends on three things:
(a) Whether he has or is being bothered by any inner thoughts or problems.
(b) The relationship between your new idea and the idea that he already has. If accepting your idea involves too strong a rejection or repudiation of his own ideas, he is not likely to be receptive.
(c) What your new idea will do to his ego. If accepting your idea means damaging his self-image, he is unlikely to accept it.
How do you know when a person is in a state of receptivity? When he starts asking questions or shows in any other ways that he wants to know more, or when he expresses self-doubt. These expressions indicate that there is a vacuum waiting to be filled, ie he is in a state of receptivity to any ideas that can fill this void. On the other hand, when a person makes a statement which ends with a period, he is less receptive than if he were to make one that ends with a question mark. The more positive and firmer his statement, the tighter is the receiving channel. To determine accurately a person’s receptivity, you have to note also the tone of his voice and his body language. A question asked in an angry manner shows less receptivity than one asked in a reflective way.
When your opponent makes a flat categorical statement against your position, it is pointless to try and make him change his mind at that point by storming his defence with the full weight of your authority and logic. Behind the fortress of his psychological defense, he hardly hears your argument. Even if he does hear any, he would minimize it. What you have to do is to enter the domain of his thinking at this point rather than to try and bring him into yours. He is not going to retreat at all and thus you would have to go to him.
You would have to draw him out and encourage him to talk. Be patient and listen carefully, both for what he says and what he does not say. Be genuine interested and concentrate on talking about the points he seems interested in and not what you want to talk about. Make him feel important and stroke him. Explore his position until you either find a weakness, or find that it is sound. If his position is sound, there is no point for you to try and persuade him any more. If there is or are any weaknesses in his position, they will function as an opening. When you can bring up the weaknesses to him, his receptivity will increase. He will indicate this by expressing some form of self-doubt or ask some questions regarding the weaknesses. This is the time for you to present your arguments.
In putting forth your arguments, you have to give an impression of neutrality, even to the point of being indifferent to which course of action he would take. You should lay out the facts before him and ask him what he thinks. If he still opposes your arguments, then rather than stating your case further, it would be better to merely furnish more information and ask him to evaluate the situation again. Show him why the situation is not as bad as it seems. But maintain your neutral stand.
One last important point for you to know in the art of persuasion is that emotions often interfere with receptivity. Whether the person will accept your arguments depends on two factors – his desire to please you, and his wish to exercise his independence. These two factors will determine his response; in which case his reaction is governed not by the logic of your arguments but by his emotional responses. These emotional responses of the person often make him comply or oppose ideas without properly evaluating them. Thus he can very well act against his own best interests even though your ideas are not that sound!
Note that if your opponent’s eagerness to please extends to the point of being unable to say no, he is bound to do something that is bad for himself. On the other hand, if his need to assert independence is strong, he is likely to become touchy about the arguments you present to him. He may be too occupied with proving that he is capable of making his own decisions, and may be disturbed by the feeling that complying with your arguments indicate a dependency on you. When dealing with such a person, you must make it look as if the ideas come from the person himself. Express understanding and make him aware that he is resisting. Then discuss his objections. Look for the signs of receptivity and delay any logical argument until he is receptive. Put the burden of proof on him and then you exploit the weaknesses in his arguments.
Do take time to digest my post today and try to apply it the next time you need to persuade a difficult person to agree with you on something or to do something he doesn’t want to. Please me know if you have any questions or problems. I shall be glad to discuss this further with you.