As a group facilitator there’s plenty of opportunity to watch people trying to persuade others. You quickly notice patterns and how well intentioned persuasive arguments lead to resistance … often resistance that wasn’t there at the start.
What’s happening that allows your persuasion to cause resistance?
My friend Sarah says, “I really like chocolate but when I go fishing I take worms, because that’s what fish like.” This expression is really a metaphor for two things:
- Presenting information in a style that suits the listener, not the speaker.
- Stepping into the shoes of the other person, having empathy for their needs.
Ask yourself: How will I, as a consultant, practice different styles of giving information? Because some people respond well to storytelling, others to charts and the written word, others need to get hands-on involvement. If you aren’t taking these different modalities into account you’re missing a trick.
Ask yourself: How well do I slow down (or speed up) to the listener’s pace, acknowledge their pain and worldview, and only then start the persuasion process?
Yes, empathy is tougher. Suffice to say that when the problem is obvious to us and we are experts in the solution we tend to forget this important part of the persuasion process. We want to deliver our messages and get a commitment to action.
Ignore empathy at your peril. In your haste to get your message across you’ll lose rapport and encourage resistance. If you like videos this earlier post gives some insights about why that is.
The bottom line
Get real: Make it easy for clients to receive and process information.
Get prepared: Design your persuasive presentation to fit the client’s style, not yours.
Get savvy: Without empathy you have no rapport. Without rapport you have no influence.
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