How to persuade people - and influence them strategically How to persuade people

Verbal communication is such a simple idea. I say or write something; you respond (or not). We move on. People do this millions of times a day.

The communication might carry very little meaning or have little practical result. But, when the interaction is with a stakeholder about a key corporate decision, the future path of an employee’s career, a large investment, or a major dispute – then the price of getting it wrong can be enormous. Equally, being able to hold sway with colleagues, to communicate a subtle point of view successfully to senior management, to win a difficult argument without acrimony, to gain approval for things that really matter, are increasingly recognised as indispensable professional skills.

Not only are they indispensable, they are becoming rarer. More public information is communicated in meaningless sound bites and journalistic cliché. People are beginning careers without the fundamental building blocks of communications skills that stretch beyond social media abbreviations. Not only are the words truncated; so, perhaps, are the thoughts.

How to persuade people is not necessarily a function of intelligence or personality type. It is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be learned.

Huthwaite has analysed the verbal behaviour of those who know how to persuade people successfully. We have noted that there are two principal styles of persuasion – push and pull style – and that each is appropriate at different times. We have studied the persuasive process, and codified who says what, when, how and to whom for maximum success. We have observed people trying to convince one another of their case; how each party responds; where they are in the decision-making process; what concerns arise along the way; what plans have to be made to achieve successful outcomes.

Above all, we have listened. We have listened to how the parties to a strategic conversation use the available airtime, the kinds of words and phrases they use – and what the conscious and unconscious effects of these might be. And with that knowledge we have built training events on how to persuade people so that you can become as effective as the most effective practitioners.