Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Use Persuasion for Good Intentions

When you automatically hear the word persuasion, what is the first thing that comes to mind?  Is it a political ad full of propaganda? Perhaps you think of the Jane Austen book, “Persuasion”. Or maybe you automatically consider persuasion is just another word for trickery.

Contrary to popular belief, persuasion is not this evil conspiracy to manipulate people. Persuasion is a form of social influence, and it is the process of guiding another toward the adoption of a new idea, attitude, or action. Doesn’t that sound similar to some of your responsibilities as a leader?

When you’re in a leadership role, it is your job to get things done. One of the most effective ways to make sure this does happen is to use persuasion. Yes, I know that might sound a bit like manipulation, but don’t forget one of the cornerstones of leadership is to influence others. Leaders can use persuasion to push their workers to make new decisions, and also use it to negotiate through difficult situations and arrive at mutual agreements in a skillful way.

Your ability to bring others to your point of view is crucial if you want to change things in your organization, which is why you must present your strategy in a persuasive and compelling way in order to inspire your workers.

If you haven’t learned how to negotiate or persuasively state your opinion, you are most likely missing out on opportunities where you can make a difference in your organization. This is why leaders need to learn how to successfully use persuasion. On the same note, leaders have to be careful to not overuse this skill, particularly when under extreme pressure. You may be perceived as an intimidating opponent rather than a skilled, persuasive negotiator.

Here are some tips on how to develop the right amount of persuasion in your leadership style:

• To improve your presentation skills, consider joining Toastmasters, or take a public speaking or acting class. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror. Ask people for feedback about your presentation.

• Practice active listening skills to sort through sources of conflict. This was mentioned in a previous post here. Listen carefully to each side of a disagreement, and repeat back in your own words the essence of the argument. When people feel heard, they are more likely to be able to listen to another point of view.

• Discuss problem situations with all parties before determining the best course of action. Seek feedback from someone else on the proposed solution before instituting it. Look for win-win solutions.

• When attempting to resolve a dispute, first focus on common goals. Try to find an area of agreement before negotiating disagreement.

• Increase your visibility throughout the organization. Get “loaned” to other parts of the organization. Participate in projects that can benefit from high energy “jump-starts.”

• Take a class or workshop on mediation techniques to help you learn to negotiate “win-win” solutions to problems.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of persuasion as a leadership skill?

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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