Speak up and influence people: Michelle Bowden

Michelle Bowden spoke to a packed room today about the powers of persuasion. Alternating between humorous stories and giving practical insights, Michelle also used case study activities that were specific to the mortgage and finance industry. She said there are five main ways to influence people:

  • Forcing/Directing (Coercive/Aggressive)
  • Persuasion (Assertive)
  • Guiding/Modelling (Passive)

The ‘persuadee’ needs to have some measure of freedom, rather than being pushed into something. Michelle worked with academics to create a Persuasion Relative Strength Indicator (PRSI)– shows your strength and weaknesses around persuasion. The test assesses:

  1. How credible is the messenger?
  2. How strong are the arguments, are they backed by evidence?
  3. How enrolled is the messenger in my needs? Do we have rapport?
  4. How convincing overall is the messenger? Are they enthusiastic, passionate and confident in their delivery?

The four main competencies associated with persuasion are:

  1. Arguing the case
  2. Establishing credibility
  3. Building rapport
  4. Delivering the message

3000 people have already done the PRSI and the findings so far are:

  • Rapport-building is the least used competency
  • Under 35s are very good at arguing the case
  • Women are almost twice as likely to use rapport-building
  • Men have a higher reliance on credibility and arguing the case
  • 93.7% people said that being better skilled at persuasion would lead to greater career success
  • 92.8% of people thought that you were either born persuasive or not – that it couldn’t be learned.

The three major components of persuasion:

  1. Position-shifting. Going from first position (selfish) to second position (seeing things from the other person’s perspective) to third person (seeing everyone’s needs from a helicopter perspective, and taking them all into consideration). You cannot influence functionally from first position
  2. Pacing and leading – articulating your stakeholder’s needs or wants and then explaining how they will get what they want with your solution
  3. Handling objections – could be a content, personal or a logistics objection

When talking with universal statements and truisms, use words like ‘or not’ ‘many’ or ‘most’, you are being 100% inclusive. Absolute statements including words like ‘always’ or ‘all’ make it easy for people to disagree with you. Part of persuasion involves a leading statement. A leading statement:

  1. is your key message (what you want someone to do);
  2. is probably contentious; and
  3. must be reasonable.

Pace before you lead during the conversation. The number of pacing statements reflects the level of rapport in the relationship. Getting a ‘no’ means that you didn’t pace enough, or pace properly, or perhaps that your lead is unreasonable. How to pace out objections:

  1. State objection
  2. Next, don’t say but or however, use and or so
  3. Then say actually
  4. Solve it
  5. ‘Because…’

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