You have great ideas, it’s just a shame that management and your colleagues rarely get on board. The next time you need to win someone over, try one of these tried-and-tested persuasion techniques.
1. What’s in it for them?
Before you present an idea, think about the benefits and challenges it offers the other person.
‘Articulate what’s in it for them and pitch directly to their concerns or interests. How will what you’re proposing further their goals or solve their problems? You don’t need an exhaustive list, focus on no more than three main benefits,’ advises Clare Whitmell who blogs on careers at JobMarketSuccess.com.
‘Identify any potential reservations they may have and come up with workable solutions and reassurances. Give them time to talk through their concerns – people like to have their say, so don’t make your case in one big info dump.’
- Show how it’s best for business
At the same time, don’t forget to look for the bigger picture pay-off when presenting an idea.
‘If you can show how your suggestion will make a positive impact on the business, for instance how it will improve efficiency or profits, then it makes your ideas more compelling and worth the effort,’ explains Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management.
- Build your sphere of influence
Before you present your idea to the wider audience, garner support from key individuals.
‘Actively cultivate strong relationships with senior decision-makers within your organisation,’ advises Corinne. ‘Sometimes you need heavyweight sponsors on your side to back your proposals and if you can say that so-and-so already thinks it’s a good idea, then others may be less quick to dismiss it.’
- Make sure you’re likeable
People don’t just buy into ideas, they buy into the person who has them. When it comes to persuading others, likeability matters.
‘Switching on the charm when you want your own way can backfire,’ warns Clare. ‘You need to act with integrity and have a good reputation built on trust. That means doing what you say you will, being honest and transparent, and taking responsibility for your mistakes.’
- Use a joint problem-solving approach
People are most supportive of an idea if they feel they have had a hand in shaping it.
‘Identify an issue and ask for suggestions on how it might be resolved,’ suggests Corinne. ‘You can refer to some ideas that you had but present them as one of a number of alternatives rather than one solution you are wedded to. If it’s a good idea, they are likely to focus on your preferred option as the best solution anyway.’
- Smile as you speak
When you’re trying to persuade someone to your way of thinking or sell them an idea, use positive and engaging words. At the same time, don’t forget your body language.
‘It sounds simple, but remember to smile and don’t speak too quickly while you’re pitching your big idea. Confident, assured and happy people are always going to be more persuasive,’ says Clare.
- Use positive reinforcement Encourage the behaviours you want at work by complimenting people every time they do what you want.
‘For example, if you want a colleague to start sharing more information with you then tell them how helpful it is when they keep you in the loop. This is often far more effective than criticising them,’ says Corinne.
- Prepare your arguments well
Do your research and spend some time thinking through how you are going to present your ideas so you can clearly express your argument and answer any potential objections.
‘The more prepared you are, the more able you will be to stand your ground and answer any potential objections,’ says Corinne. ‘At the same time, you don’t need to present every single benefit. People only remember so much, so keep it short and punchy.’
- Choose your moment
It’s no use talking to your boss about your radical new idea if they are distracted by other priorities.
‘Choose a time when you have their undivided attention or ask for it to be an agenda item at your next meeting,’ suggests Corinne. ‘Alternatively a quiet word in passing to a key influencer in your organisation, such as mentioning that your customers have asked for more XYZ, can be enough to prompt a conversation at a more strategic level.’
10. Learn how to handle conflict positively
Finally, don’t react badly if you don’t win others over this time – you could prejudice how your ideas will be received in future.
‘Not everything you suggest will get taken forward so don’t become a diva if you don’t get your own way,’ says Corinne. ‘Try to understand exactly what people’s objections are – they might have a point. Go away and see if you can refine your idea – you might be able to make it even better.’
Image Copyright: Phovoir, Photodune.com