December 2019 Character Core Of The Month
Persuasion is one of those powerful communication skills that helps others understand what we are talking about. However, persuasion can sometimes be mistaken as manipulation. Whether you are speaking to one person, or a crowd, there are several key rules to follow.
- What communication style does my audience have?
Does your audience want to hear about the facts and tangible things that make a Ford better than a Chevy, or do they want to hear about the “exciting” or “thrilling” places you can reach with a Ford? Does you audience want to hear what you have to say, then do their own research on the topic? Or do they want to be guided to their own conclusion?
Understanding your audience is what makes you successful or unsuccessful. If you do not know your audience, it is easiest to revert to your own communication style. You will need to listen to the unspoken cues that your audience is sending. Are they responding to what you are saying, or do you need to change how you are presenting your topic?
- How can I connect my topic to my audience’s values?
This can be difficult if you don’t have a lot in common. If you can connect on something as small as both of you having children, your audience will be much more open to listening to what you have to say. The opposite of this approach can lead to both you and your audience tearing each other down on a personal level, because all you and your audience can see are the differences between you. If you don’t connect with them first, you risk alienating your audience and failing even before you start.
- What personal story would frame my persuasion?
Some people want facts and figures. Others prefer ideas and how it will make them feel. The best way to communicate with both styles is to weave a story into your persuasion. Facts, figures, and a human-interest story to support your persuasion is the most effective way to speak to each of your audience’s communication styles.
Not just any story will work for any situation. Make sure it’s an example that completely supports your persuasion, so your audience is not able to pick apart your story and spin it to their point of view.
Persuasion is a very valuable skill. However, it also brings a lot of responsibility. The ability to change someone else’s opinion can propel you through life, but it can also cause you to be self-absorbed and to think that your opinion is the only valid one. Before attempting to persuade someone, understand that their opinion is just as important to them as yours is to you. Respect their opinion the same way that you want others to respect yours.