Monday, September 8, 2008

“The Subtle Art of Persuasion”

A large part of an account manager’s job is to get things done through others. But in a typical agency environment the account manager may not have formal authority over everyone important to getting the job done. Moreover, we tend to do most of our work through informal means--hallway conversations, casual meetings or while chatting on the mobile.

We are constantly trying to ‘persuade’ our colleagues, bosses, and especially our clients to listen and to comply with our point of view. So how do we excel at ‘the art of persuasion’?

Persuasion works by appealing predictably to deeply rooted human needs and human drives. Knowing these needs and desires allows us to press the right buttons to ‘persuade’ people to concede, comply, or change.

As it is commonly believed, ‘Persuasion’ is not a dark art that you are born with. It can be taught. That eminent publication that is the ‘Harvard Business Review’ says that ‘Science of Persuasion’ is governed by basic principles that can be taught, learned or applied.

The 6 Effective Persuasion Principles as explained in HBR are:

  1. If you want to influence people, win friends - Uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise
  2. People repay in kind - Give what you receive
  3. People follow the lead of similar others - Use peer power whenever possible
  4. People align with their clear commitments - So make their commitments active, public and voluntary
  5. People defer to experts - Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident
  6. People want more of what they have less of - Highlight unique benefits and exclusive information
For more details on this, log on to HBR Case Study.ppt

Masterly persuaders excel at flexibility: They know there isn't one best way to sway an audience--any principle or a combination of the above might work, depending on the circumstances. All these principles are not rocket science. This is about how people evaluate and form decisions. And finally, it is sound business sense to learn and practice the science of persuasion!

Posted by Harish

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