A Positive Way to Pursuade Others

July 31, 2014

If only they would see it from my point of view. Have you ever thought or said this? It’s frustrating when you are trying to get others to see your point, follow your expectations, or you are simply unable to persuade someone to take a certain course of action.

Some people do have the power of persuasion. It seems no matter who, and no matter what the circumstance, these people can persuade others easily, and they often do it without resentment. You may think…if only I can do the same!

I share this because I was recently reminded of a subtle, yet powerful way to persuade others. It originates from the days of Socrates, and it is described by Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”.

What’s the secret formula? It is simply the ability to get the other person to say YES! It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, yes is the most positive word in the English language. Your job is to get the other person to say yes as many times as possible. You accomplish this by asking questions that you know will bring a yes answer.

I began practicing this idea years ago, and I can tell you that it works wonders. As a teacher, I can tell you that it works very well in the classroom.  In order to persuade my students to follow my classroom expectations I have several options…I can drill them into their heads, I can bring negative behaviors to their attention every time, or I can use this method. Instead of nagging about what they’ve done wrong, I address it in a different way. For example…” don’t you think it would be easier for you to get good grades when you remain focused in the classroom? “Do you want to stay out of the detention room?” “Do you think other students will be more respectful to you if you are nicer to them?” These are just a few examples. Which one of the methods above works the best? I think even on an 8th-grade level the answer is obvious. It’s a softer approach, yet the message gets through loud and clear. I am addressing, yet avoiding focus on the negative. And the best part is that the other person is making up their own mind instead of me telling them what’s right.

I use it in my personal relationships as well. If I am having a disagreement with my wife, I can either throw my opinion at her and claim adamantly that I am right, or I can ask questions to try to get yes answers. Even if she still doesn’t agree, I’ve kept the peace, and at least I have her thinking about my point of view instead of completely turning her off to it. The same is true when I try to teach my own daughters life lessons. Two of the three are teens, and the other one is close. I’m not going to get anywhere with them if I criticize or simply state what’s right and what’s not. If I can get them to answer yes to my questions, I am again leaving it up to them to consider the positives of my expectations or point of view. I am much more likely to persuade them this way.

I recommend this approach the next time you need to convince someone of something. I am not talking about controlling people here. I am simply sharing an effective, peaceful, and powerful way to help others see your point of view and persuade them (not force them) to a particular course of action. Perhaps you are a parent trying to persuade your child to make the right decision. Perhaps you are a leader at work trying to motivate an employee. Or maybe you are simply trying to end a debate peacefully and productively. Whatever it is, I believe this concept will help you accomplish it. This is because the other person will be more open and accepting of what you are saying, they are making up their own mind, and even if you don’t fully persuade them, you will still most likely gain their agreement and maintain their respect.

So what do you think? Is this something that would make your life better?