In his previous article, Bob Burg explained how belief concepts can be powerful human motivators. Once an understanding of a person's point of view has been gained, the Three P's can then be wielded as a powerful tool of persuasion.
If you want to persuade people effectively, you must first understand what motivates people: why they do the things they do.
Most people, when in need of assistance from someone, approach in a way that, instead of making the other feel comfortable and eager to help, causes distress and defensiveness. And it goes downhill from there. When the unhelpful one resists, the average person loses his patience. This causes the unhelpful person to resist even more. Finally, after feeling discouraged from resistance and lack of help, the person in need gives up, quits, surrenders. Understand, they may have been right! They didn’t, however, get what they wanted.
Instead, may I suggest taking a totally different tack? Approach with politeness. Have a warm, sincere smile, wrapped in positive expectation. Your polite approach will separate you from about ninety-five percent of the people this individual deals with all day long.
Understand the importance of this: As with everything else in this methodology, it’s not theoretical, feel-good pap without real-world application.
When desiring to persuade, it’s vital that you set the right tone. People — even normally difficult people — are much more apt to do for the people they like. Because of the way such people are treated by most others, it’s extremely easy for you to position yourself as positively different from practically everyone else.
Next, show patience when and if such people are resistant to helping. It may be the way they are used to doing things (remember Belief Concepts?), living in the problems (“Can’t be done” or “Not our policy”) instead of the solutions. Or it may just be easier for them to try and discourage you so they don’t have to work too hard in order to earn their daily bread.
Finally, be persistent; or, as author and speaker Zig Ziglar says, “courteously persistent.” Let them know in a very kind, polite manner, that you’re not going away, and that it’s in their own best interest to help you.
Here’s an example of using “The Three P’s” to get the result you desire:
It was late morning on the day of a big exposition. I would be speaking the following day and I, along with several other people, had rented booth space where we would market my series of audio and video programs and books.
Ah, the books . . . There was a challenge. I'd really have to “Win Without Intimidation” that day because the books weren't there!
I'd just found out about the situation, as a message was waiting for me at the hotel's front desk from the woman who was running our booth. This was in Toronto, Ontario, and since my books were sent via ground transportation from my publisher's Ontario division, there should not have been any challenge at all. But there was. It needed to be handled right away or the trip would be an expensive disaster!
I called the Metro Toronto Convention Center and spoke to the switchboard operator who, as it turned out, didn't know how to connect me to the area where the booths were located. She didn't know the answer, and wasn't interested in going out of her way to find it for me, either.
In this kind of situation, you need to be polite, patient, and persistent.
Polite because it will disarm the person, and it's a generally proper, effective, and profitable way to act.
Dick Biggs, in his book If Life Is A Balancing Act, Why Am I So Darn Clumsy? quotes B.C. Forbes as saying, "Politeness is the hallmark of the gentleman and the gentlewoman. No single, positive characteristic will help you to advance — whether in business or society — as politeness."
Patient because we all realize that many "service" people have gotten into the habit when dealing with the public — many of whom can be very impolite, impatient and rude — of doing as little as possible, then hanging up the phone. Patience comes in handy when things don't work themselves out immediately after the first request.
Then let your persistence take over.
So be polite to that person, and even thank them. "Oh, thank you. I appreciate your effort in looking for me. How would we be able to find out where the books are and whom I should talk to?" With a smile in your voice you might add, "I'm in really big trouble if I can't locate the right person."
This time the operator answers, with more concern than coldness, "I don't know."
Be patient. This is just how she's used to doing things.
You now say, "I really appreciate your help. I know you're doing your best. Is it possible for you to look through your listing of extensions and take a couple shots at it? I don't want to bother you — I just have to find that booth."
She's now going to make an emotional decision based on the avoidance of pain: The pain of having to keep talking to this polite, patient, and persistent person who obviously isn't going to stop until he gets what he wants.
Yes, she finally tracked down the extension, and I was able to get the woman at the booth to find out from the loading dock exactly what happened. A few phone calls and several hours later — my books arrived.
Remember the Three P's, especially with people who are not usually required to go out of their way to help. You must be Polite, Patient, and Persistent.
Bob Burg speaks on the topics of positive persuasion and business networking. His books, Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales and Winning Without Intimidation: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion have each sold well over 100,000 copies. He maintains a web site which includes the expanded e-book version of Winning Without Intimidation.