Forget what you see on The Apprentice, where people boast of being “good at sales” just before they hound people on the street asking, “Do you want to buy this product?”
The art of persuasion relies on the building of a relationship. That relationship needs rapport and trust. In order to influence and persuade, you need to get your counterpart to willingly listen to you. To get them to listen to you, first you have to be the one listening to them.
Jo Owen’s approach to this topic is enjoyable and easy to digest. The book is well written and well structured, with clear guidance on topics like active listening, acting the part, how to plan and run meetings.
In fact, a good summation of the expertise in the book, but by no means giving away the whole thing, is in Jo Owen’s ten principles of persuasion.
- The noddy principle: get your opposite number nodding in agreement. About anything, like the weather.
- The listening principle: Great persuaders have two ears and one mouth. Let people talk themselves into an agreement by you listening to what they have to say. Let people talk about their favourite subject – themselves.
- Win-win principle: A win-lose discussion is a conflict. Identify how you can both win an you will have a more productive conversation.
- The emotional engagement principle: It is harder to argue with people you like. Get your counterpart’s wavelength early. If they annoy you, don’t show it. Wear the mask of friendship.
- Other people’s shoes principle: do not try to batter people into submission with the brilliance of your idea and logic. You will simply give them material to argue about. See how it looks from their side.
- The options principle: Have a best case outcome and be prepared to work backwards from it. Always have a plan B. Learn to be flexible.
- The partnership principle: You are not telling them and you are not being told. You are working together to discover a good outcome. If you act junior to an important person, they will treat you like a junior. Treat them not as your boss but as a human being and as your partner developing an idea or action.
- The positive principle: be positive both in style and in substance. If you are not positive and enthusiastic about your idea, don’t expect anyone else to be positivie and enthusiastic for you.
- The traffic lights principle: Think of the conversation structure as a series of traffic lights which are at red. Proceed to the next step when they are green. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
- Next steps principle: Always have some next steps at the end of every conversation, otherwise the trail goes cold. You suggest the next steps, so you are taking the lead.