Tuesday, November 23, 2010


A lovely friend sent me to this article on persuasion.

I read these things with a bit of trepidation. Even though I value networking and negotiation, I hate when it's positioned by folks who stress the self-interest side. Yes, we do nothing without some self-interest but it's not about being a snake-oil salesman. Persuasion should be about shared interests and not winning. (even in a divorce and I know that one!)

What I liked (in the middle of the subject's sly humour)was this tidbit:

"Q...Persuasion, you say, has five elements: Simplicity, perceived self-interest, incongruity, confidence and empathy (S.P.I.C.E). Briefly explain each.

A: The brain prefers simplicity over complexity. It equates it with the truth. So keep your message simple. In writing the book I hung out with some top con artists. I asked them: “What was the most important factor in getting someone to do something for you?” The key, they said, was to frame it in the other person’s self-interest, not yours. A good example was one New Year’s Eve I was at a friend’s house. Her 7-year-old son wanted to stay up late. The mother told him no, when you don’t get enough sleep you’re too irritable. He said, “You want me up at the crack of dawn when you want to sleep in?” It worked."

Letting the fact this advice came from con artists aside, the same advice can be found in the lovely little book from the Harvard Negotiation Project Getting to Yes.

Persuasion is not about winning an argument. It's about influencing the outcome, preferably in a way that benefits more than just the persuader. Thus good arbitrators and negotiators can help opposite sides come together. It's a great skill to explore as part of the daily habits of building relationships.

Relationships imply that both sides have interests being served and that power is balanced (with the scales possibly tipping daily but overall giving equal weight).

I'm ok that I share a leadership trait with con artists because everyone has something admirable about them!

No comments: