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The Art of Persuasion: Influencing People Ethically with Your Words

Full transcript

This video is an excerpt from my course building rapport going beyond small talk with advanced communication skills. If you like what you see in this video, and you want to see the bits that I’ve cut out and the rest of the course, check out the link.

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Let’s talk about the art of persuasion, where you ethically influence people with your words. I want to put it in your mind that honesty and rapport is all that’s needed to influence people in a helpful way. Manipulation is a word that we’ll use for when you’re trying to influence a person and your primary intention is changing their behavior or the outcome in your favor, even if it hurts them. And manipulation is not what we’re talking about today.

In this video is about influence, which is guiding someone towards behavior that’s best for them. So ethical persuasion is about influencing someone to make a choice that’s best for them, not you. But ideally, it’s a win win scenario, you both come out as better people as a result of the behavior change. So make it that your primary intention is to be honest and to maintain a healthy connection with the other person, rather than to get an instant win for yourself right here and now. You’re trying to stay aware of what’s best for them from their perspective, and help them step into that, and help them live up to their own integrity.

So of course, you need to begin by asking yourself, what is best for this person? Except you don’t ask yourself, you ask them.

Isn’t it amazing how often somebody trying to sell you something doesn’t ask you what’s best for you? They try to tell you what’s best for you. And if they could only ask, you would actually be much more likely to buy. So literally you say to a person, tell me what you think is best for you in this situation. Tell me what you want. Tell me what the best outcome would be from your perspective. And start with that, rather than starting with your own that you probably usually keep hidden from them.

Now, of course, you can challenge their answer if you don’t believe it or you think they’re deluded about what’s in their best interest, but you don’t challenge their answer just because you don’t prefer it. Or just because you have another outcome that you would rather get and they’re kind of getting in your way of achieving the goal. You only challenge them if you think they’re harming themselves.

Now you’re in this healthy mental mind space, where you’re really looking out for what’s best for them, even if you’re a salesperson selling something to a customer, you’re still thinking what’s best for this customer rather than what’s best for my bank account, or what’s best for this person you’re on a date with rather than what’s best for getting me what I need in a relationship, You get to a place where you’re really thinking about what’s best for them and looking for a win win scenario where both of you kind of get something great out of this.

Now we can talk about practical techniques. To keep it simple. You want to think about the what, the why, and the how – this is the most basic premise I bring to my confidence and integrity coaching with my clients.

What is it that they really want? Why do they want that? And how are they going to achieve it?

Getting the answers to those three questions can often be enough to move someone powerfully. Often the reason a person isn’t moving in the right direction is because they have not answered those three questions. They don’t know what it is they really want or they don’t know what the problem really is. They don’t know why it’s happening or why they want what they want. And quite often, of course, they don’t know how to move. That’s because they haven’t answered the what and why questions. Once you’ve answered those, the How is usually pretty straightforward.

The key is understanding it must come from them. If you tell them what they want, if you tell them why they should want it, if you tell them how to do it, you’re gonna get a lot of resistance. If they tell you, and it might be the same exact thing that you were gonna say, they’re much more likely to act on it. It’s just a psychological concept that’s common to all humans. When we come up with the idea, we’re much more enthusiastic than when it’s forced down our throat. You know this because you’re like this too.

So when you do get resistance, use a technique I call rolling with resistance. Actually, that’s not my term. It’s a whole thing from motivational interviewing techniques, by Rolnick and Miller. Now, rolling with resistance is about simply acknowledging objections when they come up and not fighting against them, also not agreeing with them. So you don’t need to disprove the thing they’ve said and push back against it. But you also don’t need to condone what they’re saying and agree with them.

Instead, you just acknowledge. So if someone says something like, I can’t afford it, you say, Yeah, sounds like you’re struggling with money at the moment. So I’m acknowledging the obstacle. But I’m not saying that that’s a good excuse to not buy something. And I’m not saying that no, you’re fine with money. I’m not disagreeing with you or agreeing with you. I’m just hearing what you said.

See if I don’t care about getting outcomes for myself and I’m just interested in your wellbeing, then why would I come up against resistance, why would I fight you? I want to work with you, not against you. So rather than resisting the resistance, which of course only creates more resistance, explore with them how they’re going to deal with the resistance.

So when someone says, I can’t afford it, then say, well, what are you going to do about it? How will you get the money?Get them to solve the resistance. You don’t have to do anything with their objections as they are their objections, it’s their responsibility.

That being said, the general frame I like to have underneath is that all resistance is ultimately a fiction. It’s an illusion that we can’t do something. It’s only a matter of whether or not you’re willing to do what it takes.

So when someone says I can’t, I assume that they’ve tricked themselves into believing that they’re less capable than they are. And I bring that frame. That’s kind of like, sure you can, you just got to figure out how. I don’t actually resist against the idea that they can’t, I just don’t agree with it.

Act as if they’re going to solve it like it’s an easy solve.

(And when someone says, I don’t want it, that’s different. And we’ll talk about that in a minute.)

Be concise and sincere, don’t overshare to try and convince them and sell them on the idea and sort of pile it on and smother them with information. You just state it like a news article headline, here are the facts, here’s what I believe. Here’s what I think is right for you based on what I know about you. And then go silent, let them decide for themselves, let them fill in the gaps. Let them ask questions. You don’t say more than is needed to get your idea across. You don’t add the convincing factor, you really have a frame that the truth will out. So if you just give them the truth, eventually they will make the right decision for themselves. You don’t need to push for anything in particular.

Ironically, when you don’t push, when you take that pressure off, people are much more inclined to agree with you and go with what you’re saying and follow your influence. Because they won’t suspect you, they won’t have that mistrust that comes when we feel someone is trying to make us do something.

So it’s best to speak as if what you’re saying is the ultimate truth that there’s nothing more believable, or that what you’re saying is in high demand and is very popular.

So if you imagine you’re saying something that everyone agrees with, and you don’t need to convince anyone, because it’s just the truth, imagine the kind of attitude you would bring to it. So rather than saying, you should buy this product,because it’s really good. Instead you say, this product’s available, I think it’s right for you. Like I don’t care if you buy it or not.

Now, of course, this particular video is not just about sales, but when we’re talking about influencing people, we really are talking about selling as a concept. You know, we’re selling ideas or selling feelings with selling suggestions on how you should behave, as well as selling stuff for money. So the concepts are really the same.

But a confident person doesn’t push a sale. They just present the offer, as shamelessly and boldly as possible. And they let the other person choose for themselves. So no apologies, no sugarcoating, no justifying, no hesitation, none of those warning signs that what you’re doing is something you don’t really believe in, and that you’ve got a hidden agenda, or any of that kind of stuff.

And the best way to apply these techniques is to not have a hidden agenda, and to not be trying to get an outcome, and to not be selling something you don’t believe in. If you come from a place of integrity, you don’t even need to worry about tactics.

Of course, if you’re wrong, then change your mind. But until evidence is presented that genuinely changes your mind, that makes you think this isn’t what’s best for the other person, as long as you think it is, go hard on it. The most convincing thing that influences another person is when you believe in it. When you believe in yourself, when you believe in your ideas, when you’re convinced, when you’re clearly not lying about how important and valuable this thing is, in your opinion. Now, when you combine that kind of self conviction with evidence, and you’re also humble that you will change your mind if better evidence comes along, you will back off if someone says no, then you become very, very convincing as a person, because why would anyone doubt someone like that?

Take your time. Rushing creates resistance and rushing always comes from a needy place. It comes from a place of trying to get an outcome, trying to convince somebody ,trying to go from where you are to somewhere else. If you just stay here and now just enjoy the conversation, just an exploratory curious conversation where you present the truth and see how they react to it, as opposed to trying to get them somewhere in the future, they’re actually going to relax and be more likely to be agreeable.

Most people, when you push against them, they push back, and this is why most salespeople attempting to influence others have very low conversion rates. Because most of the time they create resistance from other people.

When you want to influence someone who’s clearly acting in a way that harms them, my most recommended approach is the Socratic inquiry, which is basically being very, very naive about everything, as if you don’t understand or know anything at all.

So no matter what someone says, you question every word, every definition, every intention. Someone says like, well, I’m going on this Tinder date because I just really want a girlfriend. You might say, why would you want to go for it? as if you’ve never heard of that before, So why is this the way to do it? Why are you so sure it’s a good idea? What evidence do you have to back up this idea?

And you’re not really challenging them, it’s more like you’re someone who doesn’t understand anything and you just want to understand. Instead of coming in with your ideas, like you shouldn’t do this and you should do that, you just go, why would anyone do this? Why do you even believe that? What does that word mean?

You’ll find that the person has to unpack their own beliefs. And they’ll start to see like, Hey, I’m doing something that doesn’t have good reasons or good results for me, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? It’s far more powerful for them to arrive at that destination than for you to try and drag them there.

Now, of course, it’s impossible to do this without having your own intentions for yourself, self serving goals. But if you’re very open about this, it neutralizes any of the kind of pressure or doubt or mistrust. So if you’re quite open about how this benefits you and why you might want them to behave in a certain way, your own preferences and benefits, and you’re humble about how that might not also be what’s best for them, and you’re okay with that, then they’re much more likely to relax and take you seriously and believe that you are on their side.

So if I say, look, if I sell you this thing, I do get a nice, tasty commission. And that’s, of course, influencing me in this conversation. But I also want what’s best for you. So you tell me if this is the right thing for you. Because if it’s not, we’ll talk about something else.

In this way, it’s all out in the open. I’m not pretending I’m have an agenda that I don’t have. I’m not pretending that I care more about you than I do about myself if that’s not true. But I’m giving you the best possible chance to protect yourself from anything that might not be best for you. And this is good for our long term connection, our long term rapport.

I might not convince you on this idea, but I will convince you that I’m a person you can trust. And that’s good for our long term relationship. Even if we’re talking about financial sales, it’s better to have a client who thinks you’re really trustworthy, even if they don’t buy from you today, than to have someone who feels pressured into a sale and never buys from you again because they don’t like you.

I want to reiterate, this does not mean being apologetic and shameful about what you believe in. So if your idea or suggestion or whatever it is you’re selling is something you really do think is best for them, then say it like that. Say, look, I really do think this is best for you, even though I benefit from it as well. Or even, although I prefer you acted this way, I also can’t think of a better way for you to be for your own sake. So you can say it like that if that’s true.

Respect a no.

There’s maybes, there’s objections, there’s I’m unsure. And then there is a no, and a no is a full stop. If you ever push past a no, you will damage your connection with a person, possibly permanently. Any kind of consent we’re talking about here should never be breached. So always consider the long term relationship with someone over the short term when if they say a hard, no.

They’re clearly uncomfortable. They don’t want to go any further with this. Back off, even if you feel the agitation and you’re like, No, come on, we just need to talk about this. No means you’re done. This is their life, not yours. Leave them alone if they really don’t want this.

If someone says, I can’t do it, and they bring out false barriers that they could actually overcome, ensure you challenge that. But if someone says I don’t want to say, okay, it’s your life dude, this is the last time I’ll bring it up.

You win in the long term with this way because you bring up trust and respect. This person knows that they can say no to you safely, and you won’t hold it against them or punish them. You won’t breach that line of consent. And they’ll be a lot more agreeable with you in the future.

Also, you can look for the instead when you get a no. So someone says no to idea one, we go okay, well, what about idea two instead? I don’t want to buy your coaching. Okay, well, how about a course, it’s a little more affordable? I don’t want to go on a date with you. Okay, well, we can hang out as friends if you’d prefer. So give them another option. But don’t push past the No, it should be a different option and not just a varied version of the first thing you wanted.

Overall, just be honest, even when it hurts them or upsets them or causes a rejection. Because in the long run, this makes you more believable and makes you more convincing, more influential, and more likely to be believed, more likely to be respected. So think long term, big picture, what’s best for everyone, what aligns with my integrity, rather than how do I get this instant gratification right now?

Thanks for watching. If you like what you hear and you want to get better at this stuff, get in touch dan@brojo.org. We’ll talk about Coaching

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