4 Common Mistakes Made During Persuasion

4 Persuasion Mistakes To Avoid

Persuasion, like Power, is a concept which often confuses and mystifies. They are both complex, and can be dangerous if mishandled. But like power, if put to good use, persuasion can be an extremely useful tool.

Persuasive people in an organisation can galvanise people together, move ideas forward and forge constructive solutions. To accomplish the above, we need to understand that persuasion is not about convincing and selling to people. Instead, it is a whole process of learning, negotiating and compromising. It requires commitment and practice.

Here are 4 common mistakes to guide you along:

Mistake 1: Upfront Hard Selling

People hate this approach the most. I know I do. 

A lot of people like to make their case strongly from the beginning. Then through a process of persistence, logic and enthusiasm, they try to push their idea across.

The truth is, setting out so strongly at the start of any persuasion effort actually gives your (potential) opponent something to fight against, to disagree on. Effective persuaders don’t begin the process by giving their opponents a clear target to bite on.

Mistake 2: Resisting Compromise

Compromise is not akin to surrender.

Many people thought that by compromising their stand, they are surrendering to their opponents. By not compromising, ineffective persuaders are unconsciously telling people that it is a one-way street.

In fact, making concessions and finding the middle ground is very much a part of constructive persuasion. Before people accept and buy into a proposal, they need to feel that the persuader is open and flexible enough to respond to the concerns they have raised up. Compromises often lead to better and more sustainable shared solutions.

A persuader is rarely successful in changing another person’s behaviour or opinion, without altering his/her own in the process. To persuade meaningfully, we must first listen to others’ viewpoints and incorporate their perspectives into our own.

Mistake 3: Thinking Great Arguments Equal To Persuasion

Great arguments and logical reasoning may not win the person over.

Besides presenting a great proposal with sound reasoning, there are many other factors that are essential in the persuasion process.

People will be more convinced if the persuader has the right credentials and/or relevant experience. The persuader must be able to frame his position in a way that identifies common ground with those he intend to persuade, with a mutually beneficial outcome.

It is also important that he is able to connect emotionally with his audience and communicate with them clearly through figurative, expressive language – making his arguments come alive to his audience.

Mistake 4: Assuming Persuasion Is A One-Time Effort

Persuasion is a process, not an event.

It is not easy to reach a group consensus on the first try. Rather, persuasion involves listening to people, testing a position, developing a new position that reflects the input from the group, more testing, incorporating compromises….and the whole process repeats till everyone agrees to a shared solution.

Remember, for effective persuasion, there is just as much strategy in HOW you present your position as in the position itself.

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