Persuasion: the Way Out of an Unhealthy Argument

Persuasion is a survival skill, we all should possess it! 

We are at a point in life where mere wishes alone and even sweet talks are not enough to get things done. We need to actively engage our audience and people around us to achieve a common goal and get the things that we want done. To do this, we need the right skill set and that importantly must have Friendly Persuasion in it.

First, we must understand that as humans, we have different perspectives and unavoidably different interests, hence persuasion is what you need to bring or transfer someone from a current perspective to another perspective that agrees with your desire to achieve an aim.

As such, we all engage persuasive skill at one point or the other during our daily activities. For instance, when you are trying to convince a colleague to assist you with a school or office work, even when they have a pile of other things to do. Effective persuasion will determine if they would give you listening ears at all, let alone agree to do what you want. Especially in professions like Marketing and Law, persuasion is a must-have skill.

Needless to say that some individuals have mistaken persuasion to mean the same thing as manipulation. We have to set a landmark with the concept of Friendly Persuasion.

The difference between persuading or manipulating someone is in the amount of force that is applied to get what we want. While manipulation applies a large amount of force at the initial, which most often gets the listener(s) to take a defensive position, a persuasion applies nudges which can be likened to small pushes at the initial until they sense a vantage position where they can apply a greater force. 

How then can we persuade others to agree with us?

1. Integrity

This for me supersedes any persuasion theory or the persuasion slide that is often advocated for.

“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” 

Anonymous

Why do you want to persuade someone? Is it for the greater good? Is it for a personal interest that might yield negative effects on other innocent beings? Just check that interest before you launch out to persuade others. While you may be persuading someone to do something that probably has no direct benefit to them, still make sure that it will in no way harm them.

For instance, persuading someone to help you with something, when you know that attending to you at that time will jeopardize their ambition in some way and most likely they don’t see that coming, is no good intention at all.

A notable example is the #ENDSARS protest ongoing in Nigeria, the most contributing factor to the success of this campaign is that fact that all protesters have a common goal which is aimed at a greater good and not just individual interest. United is the only way to stand, divided is the surest way to fall.

2. Listening

Even while you are sure of what you want, you might be unsure of what the other side or party wants, and one way to find out is by listening to them. Sincerely, no one cares what you want even if it will benefit them until you show that you care about what they want.

A typical scenario: a politician or leader who listens to the needs of his/her followers, then agrees with those needs by affirming them, has found a way into the hearts of the people. But when you come up with a list of “80-points agenda”, that has no link to the desires of the people, it shows how little you have been listening to their voices.

Listening is a strong emotion, as opposed to what many think of it to mean surrender. When you listen, you process information right, you know the strong and weak points of your counterpart, then can pick a consensus that will create a win-win situation for both parties.

So next time you are set to persuade someone, listen to them, without losing focus on your end goal.

3. Create a consensus

The point of listening is to pick points that will buttress our stance. When we help people see that we have something in common, they are more likely to yield to our persuasion.

If you are familiar with the context of a public speaking debate, you would agree that those who top debates are not those who directly oppose the other party, but those who agree to disagree. In other words, you ascertain that your opponent or audience, in this case, is making sense with their perspective, then launch them into a deeper perspective by making your stance seem like an advance or continuation of theirs. Bring them into the ‘a-ha’ moment by starting the conversation with their perspective into yours.

What You Must Know

Persuasion is not a do or die affair; any conversation that starts with the intention that the audience must give in to the speaker’s stance is not persuasive. Instead, it is manipulative and somewhat authoritative.

We must understand that when we are persuading someone, we are begging to their emotions to agree with us, and that cannot be coercively done.

If after assertively persuading someone, they still do not agree to what we want, it is okay to back off, which probably gives your listener more time to ruminate and consider your Genuity in the situation, and this is better than forcing them to agree at first instance, and keep them suspicious of you forever.

Persuasion remains a survival skill, we all should possess it! 


Have you ever won an argument by using healthy persuasion? I’ll like to hear from you in the comments.


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