persuasive communication

How to Get to Yes with 6 Laws of Persuasive Communication

I’m having genuine interest from people in my presentation to groups on the topic, “Persuasive messaging for leaders – how to get to ‘yes’!” A major reason for the popularity of the subject is that so many people find it difficult to persuade other people to their point of view in what I believe is the most fractious public and personal communications environment I  have witnessed in my lifetime (the Vietnam era included).

The presentation provides insights into the five basic types of decision makers and what words to use in your argument to persuade them to your point of view (Harvard University, et al). If you layer onto your argument one or more of the six laws of persuasive communication and messaging, as identified by persuasion guru Robert Cialdini, the probability of achieving agreement, buy-in or support is enhanced and often assured.

We also teach the application of the concepts of communication identified by Wilbur Schramm and his teams in the 1950s, which contemplated that in order to achieve understanding, the encoder of the information must understand how the decoder will receive and interpret it.

Understand How the Receiver will Interpret Your Communication

And that brings me to the current uncivil war between the executive and legislative branch of the federal government. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) exhibits aspects of the thinker and skeptic styles of decision making. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in my view, is clearly a thinker and controller, with a little bit of the charismatic sprinkled in.

President Trump’s decision making styles are situational. That is, his decision making process is mercurial and varies depending on the decision he is facing or question he is asked. On foreign affairs, healthcare, the economy and the environment, he shows symptoms of being a follower. (He often uses the phrase, “A lot of people believe,” or, “A lot of people didn’t know,” meaning himself). On most decisions, however, he is clearly a controller with ego unchecked. Those are powerful traits for a real estate developer. Other times in other situations, Trump is a charismatic and a skeptic in his decision making styles. Unless you’ve worked with him a lot, you may be stymied as to which style of decision making you are going to understand to persuade him.

Thus the impasse in which our government is now mired. On the legislative side, you have Democratic leaders who are thinkers, skeptics, controllers and slightly charismatic. In Trump, we have a mixture of all five decision-making styles: thinker, charismatic, follower, skeptic and controller.

Use the Six Laws of Persuasion to Understand the Government Shutdown of 2018-2019

So, which of the six laws of persuasion should each side use to get their way with the other? According to Cialdini, they can choose from liking, scarcity, social validation, authority, reciprocation or consistency. Consistency is keeping your word. That might work, but can you do that in politics. Reciprocation, of course, is giving when the other party gives. That might help, too. Liking is out of the question because it appears there’s no love lost on either side and name-calling now is in vogue.  Social validation? Not so much…everybody isn’t doing this. Scarcity will work if one side can demonstrate it has more votes (power) than the other side.

My point, of course, is not to take sides, but to try to use the government impasse to offer insights into how a more productive, effective and fair outcome can evolve for the benefit of both sides when we can assess each other’s decision-making styles and apply the simple laws of persuasive communication to reach our objectives.

In closing, I’ll say I know that the late Stephen Covey is rolling in his grave. In his seminal works on effective human interaction, anchored by the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, his Habit No. 5 was a rule Trump, Pelosi and company have criminally violated: “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.”

Andrew Bowen, APR

Andrew Bowen (Accredited in Public Relations) is one of the most seasoned, experienced and trusted PR professionals in the nation. Bowen has four decades of experience in the communications industry as a newspaper reporter and editor, political press secretary, government public information officer, advertising/public relations agency executive, author, crisis communications counselor, executive media interview coach, and firm owner.

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