How Persuasive Are You?

BY Kathy Crosett
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It’s easy to be happy and generous when your sales reps are making their numbers and the latest shipped product has a low defect rate. But, how do you behave when you’re under a deadline and your key employees resist your requests for them to work late? If you’re not using ‘positive persuasion principles’ espoused by Art Petty, you might be setting yourself up for disaster.

Petty outlines a number of methods managers can use to influence team members and others to see a specific point of view. His suggestions can also work when managers need to exert influence over their leaders.

First, approach any discussion where you’re likely to face resistance with a win-​win attitude. This strategy is often used by sales reps. For example, when you ask employees to work beyond the traditional work hours, you’re upsetting their work-​life balance. They need to know there’s something in it for them if they give up free time. Instead of dragging out charts and graphs to make your point, explain how finishing a product on time will mean potentially big sales for everyone. Speaking with passion and positive emotions can increase your sway over people.

Be flexible. People will react more positively if you give them choices. They may agree that they need to put in some extra hours. Does it have to be right now? Could they get to the project after they put their kids to bed, or first thing in the morning? If you offer choices, you may get a better response to your request. Or, ask your employees if they have another suggestion. When you give them a little control, they’ll reward you with working harder.

And speaking of rewards, go there. You might not be able to afford to give your people a cash bonus. But you can and should indicate that people who give a little extra can expect something in return. Be sure to follow up by giving your team members time off or another benefit you know they enjoy.