Doing Persuasion Right

We often see people say and do things when attempting to persuade that bring them the very opposite results they desire. They’ll argue, plead, beg or scream before finally walking away in anger and frustration.

It’s much more fun to watch someone really doing it right.

Even better, through observation we can use their example to more effectively handle our own similar potentially difficult situations.

It was about 8:00 a.m. as I brought my cup of coffee and a book into the lobby of the hotel. My program wasn’t until late afternoon and it seemed like a great opportunity to relax and do some reading. Sitting across from me, unaware of my presence, with a cell phone to her ear and jotting notes, was a woman with a pleasant smile on her face.

If I hadn’t been eavesdropping…er, uh, I mean sitting in a place where I couldn’t help but overhear her talking :-) I’d have thought by the look on her face that she was on a call with her spouse or best friend. She wasn’t. She was trying very diligently to straighten out an issue that left someone without some important documentation.

She pleasantly (that word again) hung up and went to the front desk to ask if they would send a fax for her. Granted, this was a wonderful, service-driven hotel, but even if not they wouldn’t have turned down her request.

She came back to the chair opposite me and, for the first time realizing I was there, very sweetly apologized for bothering me by “talking while I was reading.” I told her it was quite alright, absolutely no bother at all, and that I was enjoying watching her so excellently handle this obviously difficult situation. With a genuine sense of peace she explained that it would all be handled and that everyone involved was being very patient with her.

Influence and Persuasion Lesson: People tend to reflect your attitude right back to you. Or, “As water reflects a face back to a face, so one’s heart is reflected back to him/her by another.” (Mishlei/Proverbs 27:19)

The process included several more trips to the front desk and calls to various people. She apologized when she had to, encouraged when she needed to and smiled genuinely the entire time. Her mission — whatever it actually was — was accomplished.

Of course, before she left, I had to ask her the secret to her great attitude and way with people. She summed it up in two phrases: “I live in gratitude,” and “Most people are nice if you treat them as such.”

Simple, elegant, influential, and persuasive.

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