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08 November 2007

12 Tips to Success: The Power of Persuasion

12 Tips to Success: The Power of Persuasion

By Hoda Nassef

Conversation is sometimes only a means of communication. When we converse, we often have to use persuasion to convince others of our ideas. Those of us who use persuasion most effectively, attain the greatest results, and achieve power. My brother has this gift, and so does my sister! (Alas! Even though they are both a bit younger than I am!!!) I'm a bit too frank to 'act' out any maneuvres, and so half the time I can't really get what I want, if my life depends on it!!! (Ma'alesh, as they say in Arabic; I wouldn't want to change, anyway!)

Webster's Dictionary quotes that "to persuade" means "to induce one to believe or do something; to argue into an opinion or procedure".

However, it is better to urge than to argue. Persuasion is a great tool, but it's effectiveness is in the appeal and not in the threat. By threats, you may make someone do unwillingly what you want him to do, but by persuasion, you may make him do it of his own free will.

In an organization, with executives in your office, your relationship is simple; you do what you are told and don't argue. With your co-workers in the office - those who do about the same work as yours - your relationship is more complex. If you are not always tactful, then look out for signs of irritation, or if the other person is nervous or sensitive. You must not try to use force in putting over your idea; it will only make trouble all the way around.

On the other hand, if you are the manager with employees who work under your direction, your relationship is also complex. Without blustering or threatening - and also without relaxing your authority - you must get the work done, because it is your responsibility.

It is important in most organizations to be able to recognize authority and to know just who is supposed to give you orders or instructions. When you are a beginner, almost anyone and everyone may give you instructions or orders. The grace with which you accept instructions, correction, and even criticism, may be a determining factor in progress.

An employee who assumes a sullen attitude when he is told to do something, gets no satisfaction from his action, and he endangers his own position. But, one who is afraid to consult his own supervisor for advice when someone else gives him an assignment, will not only be imposed upon by everyone, but will also be unable to give his own boss adequate attention. The trick is to remain friendly with the entire staff, if possible, and still get your work done!

"What are you going to be when you grow up?"

How many times did you have to answer that question when you were a child? You may smile or laugh now at the answers you used to give: "A famous movie star; Miss Universe; a traffic Police Officer; a doctor; an astronaut; UFO; a toy-shop owner; the President; the wife of the President; a War Hero; a millionaire" - etc.!

As you grew older, your ideas changed, and you became wiser in your choice of a life vocation. Apart from the ridiculous, nothing is impossible, but you first have to have certain goals in your life, and learn to recognize your own undeveloped ingrown talents. From there, planning is your first objective to attain your future targets. But first, you have to persuade yourself that you can achieve these goals, if you really have the desire and the aptitude.

As you grew older, you (or your parents), began to discover your talents and to realize that your greatest happiness would result if they were put to some constructive use. You also began to understand the value of money. Like it or not, money plays an important part in the realization of your ambitions, therefore, you may hesitate to plan on something that is beyond your budget.
However, if your ambition is worthy, if it implies good citizenship, morals, and respect for the law, if it includes consideration of the rights and happiness of others, then you are justified in bending every effort you can to attain that ambition. Persuade yourself that you can obtain the necessary money; persuade yourself that you will get the required education in order to achieve your set goals.

Nurturing your talents requires the proper type and degree of education, for fulfilling that ambition. Don't let temporary problems obscure your view of the possibilities of the future. Planning for the future means more than planning ahead a year at a time.

Suppose you are already in your forties, and stuck in a job that gives you no satisfaction? With planning, and persuasion, you can change that job, and consequently change your whole life. It's never too late.

Our lives were meant to be full and abundant. Such lives call for courage and daring. Dare to be alive every minute of the day! Dare to follow your worthy impulses. Dare to tackle each new task with persuasion, energy and will.

"The great law of culture is: Let each become all that he was created capable of
being; expand, if possible, to his full growth,
resisting all impediments…and show himself at length in his own shape and
stature, be those what they may."
(Thomas Carlyle)

It is not always easy, but you must persuade yourself to be very honest in analyzing your personal characteristics. No matter how excellent your skills may be or how strong your "pull" is in obtaining your objective, you will not be able to hold on to it for long if you cannot get along well with the others in the same organization or office. Your ability to get along with others depends on your personal characteristics and your skill in adjusting your personality to the personalities of others with whom you are associated.

Basically, there are three main groups of behavioural patterns, or types: The Aggressive Person, The Submissive Person, and The Assertive Person. Ask yourself "What category am I in?" And, under which category do you think others see you? Check the three categories carefully, and give your honest opinion:

1. A Submissive person, usually reacts defensively; he fails to stand up for his rights or ends up by inducing others to disregard them. He expresses his feelings, thoughts, and beliefs in an apologetic, cautious, or self-effacing manner. Typical of submissive behaviour are long, justifying explanations, often putting himself down while attempting to accommodate the needs and views of others.

2. An Aggressive person, attacks; he stands up for his rights in such a way that he violates the rights of another person, or expresses his feelings in an inappropriate and unsuitable way. The aggressive behaviour is characterized by blaming other people or outside factors, or by showing contempt and being hostile, attacking or patronizing.

3. An Assertive person, uses persuasion; he stands up for his rights in a way that does not violate another person's rights. His attitude leads to an honest open and direct expression of his point of view which, at the same time, shows that he understands and respects the other person's opinion/position.

Apparently, "assertive behaviour" is the best pattern.

Start with self-analysis to discover which "pattern" you use, either consciously or subconsciously. If you seem to be making everyone irritated, or if you get the same unpleasant reactions to your actions and usually to the same type of situations, then try being objective about yourself. Ask yourself if you could be wrong. Could everyone be wrong, and only you are correct? Even if you assume that someone is "out to get your job", or that your colleague is jealous of your success, or that 'everyone has a complex', try putting yourself in their place for a moment. What if they are right? What if they are not envious of you? What if they don't have 'complexes'? What if they are not 'out to get your job'? Then, reason with yourself that not everyone can be wrong at the same time and during the same situation or for the same purpose. Why should everyone be biased against you?

Criticism can be either constructive, or destructive. Persuade yourself that you may have some unpleasant traits that could be amended. Take all criticism seriously, and consider them as 'constructive criticism' to profit from, even from the occasional envious colleague, the resentful jealous co-worker, or the over-ambitious associate. Learn from your 'critics', and then turn the criticism to your own advantage.

No one behaves assertively, aggressively or submissively all the time. People vary their behaviour between all three and are more likely to react aggressively or submissively (rather than assertively) in a conflict situation. In a conflict situation, your reaction usually has more to do with your own self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the evaluation we make and hold about ourselves. It is the high or low level at which we rate ourselves. It is our judgement of our worth as a person and is based on the extent to which we believe ourselves to be competent, likeable and successful. If our self-esteem is low, then we feel anxious when a conflict arises. We feel insecure and threatened by the situation and the people in it. It is a basic instinct when we feel threatened either to hit out (aggression) or to turn to the defensive (submission). However, with practice and self-control, we can learn to react more effectively, without losing ground and self-esteem, while at the same time without offending or harming others.

According to some famous American and Scandinavian Schools of Business and Hospitality Industries, there are 12 ways to achieve better rapport with your colleagues, superiors and associates:

ONE: Develop your own self-esteem and self-confidence.

TWO: Understand your own feelings, behaviour and reactions. Start by liking yourself, then try to improve and be more likeable.

THREE: Understand why people are what they are, and do what they do. Not everybody thinks the way you think. Your way may not always be the best way.

FOUR: Avoid quarrels and pointless discussions that achieve nothing.

FIVE: Resolve differences. Try expressing yourself better, and asking for a clearer explanation from the other person. Don't be afraid to ask.

SIX: Be friendly and give service, and not advice! The former won't detract from your prestige, and the latter won't diminish your image!

SEVEN: Be flexible and be prepared to change. Admit first that you want to change, and that you can change.

EIGHT: Record in your mind the good results you got out of the changes you made, and try to adjust your behaviour accordingly, on a more permanent basis.

NINE: Ask open questions, and to the point. Don't be evasive, and don't assume that everyone knows exactly what you mean, unless you learn to express your feelings and opinions better and more clearly.

TEN: Listen attentively to the others, and show understanding and concern for other people's opinions and feelings. You may 'hear' but never really listen!

ELEVEN: Leave open the chance of other courses of actions in order to avoid "saving face" (YOURS or THEIRS). In other words, don't be inflexible and stubborn!

TWELVE: Admit openly if you are mistaken. You are only human, after all, and will be respected more for admitting if you are wrong, instead of putting the blame others, or putting your head in the sand to avoid confrontation!

By programming yourself with persuasion, you can eventually reach the desired successful results in your dealings with all types of people and their various and variable behaviours. By persuasion, you can master the above 12 steps to successful interpersonal relationships.


H.N.

The Platters

New York

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