Every persuasion follows the same basic outline, whether you’re asking for the time or selling a billion dollar aircraft carrier.
And according to the latest linguistic research, every conversation is a persuasion.
The whole purpose of communication is to persuade. When you stop somebody on the street for the time, you’re trying to persuade them to tell you the time.
When you ask your mom to pass the salt, you’re trying to influence her to help you get what you want.
Now, I know a lot of people cringe when they hear something like this. A lot of people only assume that persuasion comes with pushy and often times creepy salespeople who simply won’t take no for an answer.
But the truth is, unless you’re standing around talking to yourself, you’ve got some kind of intention, conscious or not, that hope you will be achieved because of the string of words coming out of your mouth.
Maybe your intention is to keep from getting bored, or maybe your intention is to get a phone number, or maybe your intention is to find where they keep the blank CD’s, but you DO have an intention.
And the structure, is always the same.
Rapport, criteria, leverage.
Sometimes these are conscious, often times they are unconscious. Sometimes they are assumed to be already there (like when talking to your friends, or smiling at a stranger) sometimes you know you’ve got to create them or elicit them.
If you miss on any of these, you’ll likely misfire. Take asking somebody for the time. When you politely interrupt them and begin the conversation with, “excuse me…” you are creating rapport.
When you smile and say “thank you,” you are assuming the universal criteria of a warm, friendly human interaction.
Leverage is when you “trade” what you want for what they want. You wanted the time, and after you got it , you “paid them” with a nice, genuine smile.
If you keep these three in mind, you’ll never get lost. Build rapport, find out what they want, and then figure out how to structure a trade. Give them what they want in exchange for what you want.
Everybody’s better off, and everybody’s happy.