How can you be certain the person to whom you are speaking hears you? I mean hears you in a way that lets you know that they were really listening? How do you persuade someone that your point of view has legitimacy? How do you make the emotional connection necessary to good communication without losing control of your emotions? Good questions all. The travel agent with a loyal following is almost certainly an expert in communication skills- a worthwhile study, indeed.
Experts at persuasion will tell you to find common ground with your listeners. Common ground typically is all about empathy, a topic that we have addressed many times in our conversations on authentic marketing. When you are empathetic, you let your listeners know that you are aware of their situation, that you are interested in their best interests. This is a far distance from “selling”, and that’s a good thing. You don’t want to be perceived as selling your ideas, of being an intellectual bully or of badgering people to accept your position. Rather, you meet your listeners on their ground, where they live. You let them know you understand their position and that your position is open to persuasion. By doing so, you free your listener up to shift their intellectual stance as well.
Confidence is key to persuasion, and confidence means doing your homework and admitting where you have gaps in your knowledge. In fact, turning to your listener and asking for help creates and immediate bond. Conversations are two way streets and are best explored in tandem with your conversational partner. A shared conclusion is so much more powerful in the long term than coercion. Persuasive conversations enroll the participants in a mutual appreciation of each other’s position – a far cry from the shrill protestations of what passes for political discussion in today’s entertainment news – probably the worst possible venue to educate people on the possibilities inherent in communication.
Yesterday, we discussed how listening is the first step in being heard. If you want to be heard, speak to your listener’s experience and interests, not to your vast knowledge. After all, if you believe in a client-centric approach, the client is the ultimate expert in his own needs and desires. Participate by providing a reflection of their interests. The minute you sprint off in the direction of your own experience, without relating it to the client, your listeners will hear you only distantly. You will be one more conversation in the day, one more person who spoke to them about…something. Deal with their experience, their needs and their concerns and you will be remembered.