Last week, President Trump and Democratic Leaders Schumer and Pelosi provided their persuasive arguments about the government shutdown and funding for a border wall. Did it convince you to change your position? Since the talks broke down the very next day and the government remains shutdown, suffice it say, the persuasion didn’t seem to change the other party’s views either. So what do you do when persuasion doesn’t work?
Many executives have risen to our positions because we are good at getting people to see our point of view. Being able to articulate a vision and getting people rallied around it is an essential part of leadership. Successful salespeople are masters at persuasion as they help customers see how their solution will solve the customer’s problems. If you can get someone to see your point of view, then it virtually costs you nothing other then some hot air. But when the other party doesn’t buy into your persuasion, things can go awry… as we’re witnessing with the government shutdown.
When persuasion doesn’t work, both parties can get frustrated. When persuasion continues, tensions begin to rise. It can even reach a point where emotions boil over and what started as a harmless attempt to get buy-in now becomes a fight or a destructive argument that can get very personal and potentially destroy a relationship.
Let me be clear, I’m not saying don’t try persuasion. I am saying that recognize that if it’s not working things can spiral quickly. Therefore, you need to recognize when it’s not working:
- Repeating yourself. Rarely does saying the same thing a second time help you. Rarely does saying the same thing a second time help you (just making sure you’re paying attention!).
- Tensions are rising. If you can sense agitation from the other side or even your own emotion starting to boil, persuasion may have run its course.
- Cutting each other off. If you are just waiting to talk and are not really listening, then that typically leads to cutting each other off and other bad behaviors. Another sign that persuasion has over-extended its welcome.
When persuasion stops working it’s time to switch gears into negotiating. Here’s how to switch gears:
- Stop talking! If you need to, take a break and come back to the conversation with emotions in check and a fresh perspective.
- Start asking questions. Get curious about the other party’s needs and motivations. Try to discover what is most important to them.
- Find a common goal. It could be as simple as “we want to find a way to work together”. A common goal can help keep everyone focus on what you are working towards.
- Start trading. This the essence of the negotiating. Your goal is to trade things of high importance to them for things that are of lesser importance to you.
Persuade when you can. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, don’t waste time or run the risk of destroying a relationship. Instead move into negotiating dialogue and make a deal happen. (Are you listening Washington??)
Has Your Persuasion Stopped Working?
If you persuasive argument has stopped working, it’s time to take a different tactic. It’s time to negotiate. We can help. We can be your advisor, your coach, and your trainer. Whether you bring us in to create your strategy, or help you prepare, or develop your team’s negotiating skills - we can help you win at the negotiating table.
We’ve been consulting and teaching our proven negotiation methodology for over 40 years. We know the process, we can identify the skills required, and we have the techniques to negotiate better deals for you. Call us and let’s discuss what we might be able to do for you.