Life is a million mini-persuasions, day after day—whether you’re trying to convince your S.O. to go on an Ikea trip, your kid to turn off the Xbox, or your boss to give you a raise.
So how do we win the negotiation game? By being our most persuasive. Nothing illustrates the magic and simplicity of persuasion more beautifully than the Aesop’s fable “The North Wind and the Sun.”
The basis of the story is that the wind and the sun have a dispute over which is stronger. The wind spots a traveler and tells the sun, “Watch me make him take off his coat!” But the stronger he blows, the tighter the traveler pulls his coat to this body. Then the sun takes her turn. She beams warm and loving rays at the traveler until he willingly undresses.
The moral? Persuasion is far more effective than force. Always has been, always will be (heck, these fables were created thousands of years ago).
How can you be more persuasive—at home, at work, in your relationships?
By using the 4 Ps!
What is it that you want to achieve in persuading someone? Have a clear objective. Can you measure if you were effective or not? For example, do you want a 20 percent salary increase? Do you want a date night every Friday? Do you want your kid to limit video games to 45 minutes a day? Having a clear purpose in mind makes you confident because clarity does not allow for confusion or mixed messages. What’s your precise purpose when it comes to your next persuasion?
This step is commonly overlooked as we dive straight into a conversation and make a request. What’s the why behind your purpose? Why does it matter?
For example, if you want a raise, how much money are people in your role being paid at different companies? How have you gone above and beyond in your position over the past 12 months? List that good stuff out. How has your company benefited as a direct result of your contribution? Preparation puts you in the strongest stance possible. Added bonus: Prepare for the rebuttals you might get. Play devil’s advocate for yourself. Prepare a comeback for every possible rejection!
Present Benefits—With Presence
When we want someone to do something, we want to present the decision or option in their best interest. For instance, I was negotiating a conference room in a nice hotel and wanted to pay way less than the fee. I didn’t mention my limited budget. I didn’t talk about my needs. I didn’t appeal in an apologetic way.
What I did do was tell the events manager that 12 of New York’s finest entrepreneurs would come to her hotel, see
its amazing facilities, be introduced to the chain, potentially book rooms, and even consider hosting their own conferences there (meaning: more money is gonna be coming your way, girlfriend!). Your language and the image your create matters. My objective was to get a 40 percent discount. I got 30 percent. Win-win for all!
It’s important to be as present as you can be when presenting your case. Everyone just wants to be heard, so be an active listener and present with presence!
Persevere (and Be Patient)
Someone once said that 80 percent of success is showing up. I’d argue it’s staying put once you get there. We are too likely to quit, walk away, and leave dissatisfied from any negotiation. After more than a decade in sales, I can tell you that the best salespeople simply stay in the arena. It’s true that success is a numbers (and patience) game—but most people leave the party too early.
Say your company doesn’t have the budget for salary increases until the spring. Cool! Follow up in April. What can they give you in the interim—maybe some additional time off? A more flexible work-from-home option? It’s OK to keep asking questions: Remember all that prep you did—you’re an awesome team player and have plenty of reasons you deserve it—but if you don’t ask, the answer is always going to be no, and giving up will get you nowhere.
Force can give you a short win, yes, but the long game is all about helping the other person have your way.
Susie Moore is Greatist’s life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!