The Impact of Incremental Persuasion
People often think of one great strategy or compelling argument as an effective means of persuasion. In actuality, persuasion of any import is rarely accomplished by a single argument. If that were the case, persuasion would look much like the diagram below, where A is the starting point and C represents the desired change:
A → C
Actually, getting from A to C usually requires at least a step B, and perhaps even multiple steps between A and B and between B and C. A more realistic view of persuasion looks something like this:
A → 1 → 2 → 3 → 4 → B → 1 → 2 → 3 → 4 → C
Most people don’t like to change things that they believe work for them. So, resistance is natural. People also face obstacles and limitations that interfere with their acceptance of even the strongest reasoning. A sure way to fail at persuasion is to underestimate the steps necessary to deal with these challenges.
While the model above is too static to capture the back-and-forth, quid-pro-quo nature of most persuasion, it does provide a guide for your planning.
Suppose your supervisor won’t listen to your concerns about project overload. It may be that A1 represents getting him to talk about the issue. A2 might entail convincing him to listen to your views, A3 allowing you to provide evidence, and A4 discussing the problems created by the status quo. Step B could be achieving his appreciation of the situation. Therefore, B1 might be gaining a willingness on his part to consider a change and B2 a discussion of how to either lighten the total load or prioritize projects to provide better focus on each one. B3 and B4 could then be specifics of the change, and C his ultimate agreement.
Granted, this is a static view of the complexity of persuasion, but it sure beats going in without a plan. Any actual persuasive effort may involve fewer steps than these -- or far more. Adaptability is usually necessary, as well as a willingness to redefine C.
In some cases, reaching B may be the most challenging part of the total effort. Once your supervisor appreciates the situation, reaching C could turn out to be a piece of cake. Perhaps the supervisor believes that discussions about workload are a form of whining. Once that perception is altered, he or she may move quickly to rectify the situation. By contrast, you may work for someone who is quite willing to listen, even agrees with you, but who sees no way around the problem. Getting to B is easy; it’s the journey to C where you’ll need to concentrate your efforts.
The next time you want to persuade someone, consider mapping out what you can reasonably obtain at each point in a discussion, or over a number of conversations. Being right or in possession of compelling evidence often is not as important to effective persuasion as recognizing what steps need to be taken along the way.
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According to TwoFold CEO Alison McMahon, a leader who doesn't care (or can't pretend to care) about his or her employees isn't much of a leader at all.
Why do people quit their jobs? Surely, there are a ton of factors: money, hours, location, lack of interest, etc. For Alison McMahon, an HR specialist and the CEO of TwoFold, the biggest reason employees jump ship is that they're tired of working for lousy bosses.
By and large, she says, people are willing to put up with certain negatives as long as they enjoy who they're working for. When that's just not the case, there's no reason to stick around:
Nine times out of ten, when an employee says they're leaving for more money, it's simply not true. It's just too uncomfortable to tell the truth.
Whether that's true is certainly debatable, though it's not a stretch to say that an inconsiderate and/or incompetent boss isn't much of a leader. If you run an organization or company, your values and actions need to guide and inspire your team. When you fail to do that, you set the table for poor productivity and turnover.
McMahon offers a few suggestions for those who want to hone their leadership abilities, though it seems that these things are more innate qualities than acquired skills. For example, actually caring about your workers or not depending wholly on HR thinking they can do your job for you.
It's the nature of promotions that, inevitably, a good employee without leadership skills will get thrust into a supervisory position. McMahon says this is a chronic problem that many organizations need to avoid, or at least make the time to properly evaluate and assist with the transition.
But since they often don't, they end up with uninspired workers. And uninspired workers who don't have a reason to stay won't stick around for long.
Read more at LinkedIn.
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