People are eager to increase their skills in persuasion, to know how to gain commitment and cooperation in business and in life. When organizations hire me to speak and consult, they are looking for secrets to persuade others.
At the end of my sessions, people are usually encouraged and a bit surprised—because the laws of persuasion are not as difficult as expected. We know these laws instinctively, but we are often so busy that we don’t think about them when we compose messages. My specialty is to bring the laws of persuasion to the surface and to make these laws easy to apply.
For example, here’s a fundamental law of persuasion: When you focus on the needs and goals of the people receiving your message rather than your own goals, your message becomes more persuasive.
To test this law of persuasion, read the following excerpts from the preface of a book on job skills. Assume you are a job seeker and choose which book you’d prefer to read:
Option 1: I have experience as a recruiter in a large institution, a specialist in a job-readiness program, and in other positions in human resources. My experience points to a need for a quick, easy-to-read guide of tips people can use in their job searches. I wrote this book for job seekers to share my experiences.
Option 2: The purpose of this book is to make your job search easier, less frustrating, and more successful. This book is a quick, easy-to-read guide you can use for any job search. You’ll find tips about things that have worked and things that haven’t worked—in job searches of real people. Follow this guide for an easier, less frustrating, and more successful path to your new job!
The people in my workshops always choose option 2. Yet, the difference between option 1 and 2 is a simple twist. Option 1 focuses on the author of the book rather than the reader. It repeats the words, I and my, focusing on the experience of the author. Frankly, who cares?!
Option 2 focuses on the reader’s goals, frustrations and needs. It repeats the word you and your. By choosing to address the needs and goals of the potential reader (in this case a job seeker), the author increases the chances that her book will be read. A fundamental law of persuasion is in force.
Here’s a classic way to test your messages against this law of persuasion. You’ll need two different colored highlighters. Use one color to highlight the use of I, me, my, our, or your company or department name or goals. Use the other color to highlight the use of you, your, or their company or department name or goals. Whatever your intentions, the color that dominates (you vs. I) reveals the focus of your message.
If needed, make a few simple twists until the balance changes to focus on the receiver. Only then will the law of persuasion work in your favor.
This entry is adapted from my book, Secrets to Get Busy People to Respond to Your Messages. You can order it at http://www.incrediblemessages.com/products.htm.