The Art of Persuasion
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I recently had an interesting coaching discussion with a
client, strategizing about how to begin changing the culture within her
organization. She’s bright, well-educated, and very
experienced in her field. As you can imagine, our
conversation was interesting and productive.
Like many senior executives, she truly wants to
succeed. She wants to shift the culture in her organization,
have her team to embrace and embody the new cultural behaviors and
values to one which is more positive, and doesn’t want to
fail. Consequently, she asked for my thoughts on how to begin
her initiative along with how to ensure people act accordingly.
I started by asking for her thoughts on the best way to
achieve her goals. Her response was pretty typical of many
leaders. It showed vision, strength, and
conviction. The approach she planned to use started with a
meeting of her direct reports (managers). At the meeting, she
planned to let them know how detrimental the current behavior had been
to the success of the organization and to the people within the
She planned to explain how – in its various forms – the
current behavior caused problems and wasn’t really a reflection of who
they were as an organization.
Finally, she would “lay down the law” and, as head of her
organization, would clearly communicate what she wanted and set the
The plan was well thought out and made sense. The
only problem was that it would only have a fraction of the impact it
could and should have. Let me explain why and what I
suggested as an alternative approach.
The main reason that her approach wouldn’t be as impactful as
she hoped was that she was dictating the change to her team instead of
persuading and creating genuine buy-in to her initiative. In
all likelihood, the results would have been weak and short-lived.
I offered a somewhat different approach to introducing the
change she wanted to see within her team and her
organization. This alternate approach starts off by asking,
rather than telling. It starts by asking her team whether
they feel the current behavior is something they are happy with and
whether they feel it is a problem. Only by revealing how
people feel about the current situation can a leader determine the
steps that should come next.
It may be that everyone is like-minded and the next step is to
brainstorm the best way to achieve long-lasting change. In
contrast, it may turn out that only some of the team is like-minded but
others don’t see the behavior as a problem – in which case the best
next step would be to determine why they feel the way they
do. Only then can the leader understand their perspectives
and decide how to most effectively persuade them to change their view
The key to being persuasive is to first understand the other
person’s perspectives and motivations. Once you understand
how they see things you can better determine what arguments to make and
how to frame those arguments. You are most persuasive when
you meet the other person where they are in their thinking and then
shift them from that place.
If you truly want to become more persuasive, start by
discovering the other person’s perspectives and motivations.
About the Author
by Michael Beck, an Executive Coach and Strategist specializing in
employee engagement, executive development, and leadership
effectiveness. Connect on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mjbeck
and visit www.michaeljbeck.com
to learn more.
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-11-24 09:05:18 in Personal Articles