If you work in sales and business, in general, you understand the constant and seemingly unending pressure to make others see your point. If you know what I mean here, you see why persuasion is important, and you know the need to be more influential very well. But there is more to it. Despite the conventional wisdom telling you that some businesses are about people, I’m here to remind you that all business is about people – think of any market that isn’t about something that people will buy for its purpose or convenience. You can’t.
Persuasion as a word is polysemic, meaning that, like many other words, it has different meanings. However, for the sake of this article, we will focus on its more popular definition, which is a form of speech or writing that uses argument or emotion to make the reader or listener believe what the author or speaker is saying. I will let you work this definition for a minute or two, hoping that you can grasp it properly.
And go through that definition again, read it with me and focus on the powerful parts of it: a form of speech or writing that uses argument or emotion to make the reader or listener believe what the author or speaker is saying. To make the reader or listener BELIVE what the author or speaker is saying. To me and those who deal with the public regularly, this is the definition of a superpower. You can see why this skill (or set of skills persuasion requires the use of different tools to work optimally) is essential in business, the goal of sales is, after all, about making the buyer believe that they want or need what you are selling.
Let’s step out of the business context for an instant and see why persuasion, as a set of skills, is vital to life in general.
I’ll ask you once again to look at conventional wisdom in the eye and put it in its rightful place; you have likely heard the obscenely wrong claim made by some people that they don’t like to sell, that it is not necessary for their lives. Simply put, and with all offence intended, the people making that statement are oblivious to the amount of selling we all do throughout our lives. Indeed, you and others may not want to exchange money for your persuasive efforts, and that is subjectively noble. Still, when you convince someone of anything, there is always a transaction taking place, even when it isn’t a monetary one.
Winning an argument has its rewards; it could be as evident as feeling proud of your win, or as critical as averting the entertainment of a dangerous idea. When you persuade a friend, for example, to stop using harmful drugs, you have sold that friend a better chance at a healthy life. Through your use of argument and emotion, you have moved them to improve their behaviour – they bought what you were selling and your payment, if you will, is the pleasure of having helped some for whom you care. Imagine the outcome of a failure to persuade your friend or the devastating effects of that failure… I have lived them, and can attest to the pain it brought to my circle.
Seduction is the ultimate form of selling when done correctly. I don’t know too many people avoiding meeting and convincing the love of their lives that they are the right ones.
I can put forth many more examples to illustrate the importance of persuasion to much more than sales and business. However, I will let you think of instances in which the superpower I describe here can help you become better for yourself and the people around you.
As I stated in my third paragraph, persuasion is a suite of skills that require different tools to work and acquiring these skills isn’t a simple endeavour, but I am here to tell you that it starts with thinking about the importance of these skills to who you are as a person.
Once again, I will ask you to read the definition of persuasion I gave you, pay attention to the parts that jump at you and embrace the power that it offers you.
See you soon.