The Art of Persuasion

In Dr. Seuss’s famed childhood book, Green Eggs and Ham, Sam-I-Am persistently insisted that the Cat-in-the-Hat try just one mere morsel of an objectionably looking delicacy. Let’s look at Sam’s art of persuasion.

Speak from experience. It is hard to convince someone of that which you are not fully persuaded. Try it. Test it. Be comfortable in the performance, concept or principle before passing it on to others.

Make the presentation interesting. Give concerted thought to the words to use rather than rambling. Use examples, props, visual aids or other venues to illustrate your message. Present in different formats, keeping in mind the vast array of learning styles.

Do not give up easily. Keep on keeping on. A “No” is not necessarily final. Be willing to do more research and contact at a later date. Although there may come a point of needing to let go, through developing a relationship, the issue is always available to be revisited.

Be more concerned with client’s need than with your sale. Whether an item or an idea, when you have the other’s best interest at heart, your doggedness has more substance. There is a difference in motivation and manipulation. Manipulation is external and for personal gain, whereas motivation is internal and for the benefit of all involved.

Remain pleasant in the face of opposition. Always remember the other’s humanity and do not be offended by objections or misunderstandings. Guard your facial expressions and monitor your tone of voice. Show respect by acknowledging that everyone is right from their own perspective. Make relationship more important than being right.

Do not gloat over having persuaded another. We are each self determining and make our own decisions, whether persuaded in one direction or not. You did not make someone come to your conclusion. If you think you did, it was manipulation and not persuasion. A person convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. If your influence made a difference in the outcome, recognize it for what it is – encouragement and not determinism, effect and not cause.

Try it, you’ll like it. Give yourself room to grow by being open to new experiences.

CAUTION: Whether being the persuader or the persuadee, check with your conscious that what you are trying will not lead to addictive or destructive behavior.


Change is a Choice

Confucius said, “Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.” If you do not fall into one of those two categories, here are some thoughts on choosing to change. Change is good. Change is the only thing that is permanent and our adjustment to it keeps life in balance.

1. True change comes with an adjustment in thinking, feeling and doing. It is with intellect that we reason, weigh, consider and understand the issues of life. It is with our emotions that we feel the issues of life such as joy, sorrow, pride, shame, etc. It is with the will that we decide the issues of life, such as “I will do that…” or “I will not do this…”; we say "yes" or "no" to opportunities, "yes" or "no" to temptations, "yes" or "no" to actions.

2. We think in pictures. If we don't get the picture, we don't get the concept. Change often seems impossible because we continue to keep old pictures in our mind while trying to bring a new reality into focus. To change your life, change your mind. Change can be scary, but the rewards are worth the struggle.

I am afraid I am only a dreamer who hasn’t the courage to change.
Kuki Gallmann in I Dreamed of Africa

3. The current pictures in our mind were developed in indelible ink. There are no gaps in communication, for we fill in the blanks with our imaginations or pre-conceived ideas. Perhaps we sensed someone’s emotional state, and pictured it as a logical stance. Perhaps we read the body language or facial expressions and misinterpreted it. Even though emotional imprints are powerful, the truth is, our mental pictures can be wrong.

4. Challenge the mental pictures you have. Is it real or imagined? Have I lied to myself? Am I keeping myself boxed in and not growing? Most of our pictures come from past experiences that say to us, “What has happened will happen.”
In workshops, I like to ask participants to “picture it”, then call off a litany of objects, i.e. dog, car, tree, building, house, etc. The result is that most people picture their own dog, their own car, a tree in their own yard, etc., thus showing how we carry yesterday into today, thus failing to expend the energy or creativity to think new thoughts which results in new adventures and change.

So, change your mind. I would suggest that just as you easily changed your mental picture from dog to car, so you could just as easily change old prejudices into new accepting attitudes, and change outgrown labels into new realities of who you are becoming.

5. Become the “little engine that could”. Even though the hill may be long and arduous, keep on keeping on until you reach the summit of change. It is okay to grow up emotionally and leave home. Put away childish things. Develop and use skills you have now which you did not have as an innocent, defenseless child.

You’re always competing with your own past. It’s the reach muscle. You have to reach for something new in life. - Steven Spielberg

To change your life, take new pictures. Visit new vistas. Whet your appetite to learn different ways of dealing with issues. Change your mind. Get a paradigm shift. Live more from imagination than from memory. Dream dreams. Develop the attitude of “When I see it, I will believe it.”

“Nothing of value gets lost in the change.” - Anthony Hopkins in The Dawning