Your ability to persuade depends on the quality of your relationship

At this particular event, which was a new location and experience, Grace was overwhelmed even though she and I had been through a number of agility courses. Despite her anxiety, I could persuade her to do some things beautifully, like jumping through this tire. She wasn't thrilled with the activities, but we've built our relationship on give-and-take and work to keep the balance as much as possible.
At this particular event, which was a new, larger venue with many more people and most of them unfamiliar to Grace, she quickly became overwhelmed even though she and I had been through a number of agility courses. Despite her anxiety, I could persuade her to do some things beautifully, like jumping through this tire. She was nervous and unsure but we’ve built our relationship on give-and-take and we work to keep that balance as much as possible so that when one asks for something out of the ordinary, we’ll do what we can to help the other out.

There are lots of times in the course of a normal day when we need to persuade a co-worker. Sometimes it is as simple as asking a teammate to cover during a lunch break or as challenging as implementing a new policy that presents unwanted changes. No matter the degree of difficulty, there is one thing that will make all your efforts to persuade much more effective.

The quality of your existing relationship with the person you are trying to persuade will always impact the outcome

Think about a time when someone you respected and admired asked you to do something. And then think about a time when a rude, arrogant, and insensitive person asked you for something. I’m sure it’s easy to recall which exchange went more smoothly. Even if you had issues with the request from the person you felt closer with, you would work through those questions in a helpful way. However, chances are pretty good that there was grumbling involved even if you did want the annoying person wanted.

When we think about our role in persuading others, we immediately jump to how we need to inform, educate, or change the other person. However, our best chances of persuading is when we listen to what is important to the other person and work together towards a goal that meets the needs of both. Ranting and raving about what someone is doing wrong will not endear them to you.

When managing, or even working alongside others, we tend to forget how important our everyday actions are influencing the basic relationship. The little things we say or do at any given moment create a foundation of a relationship. That is the baseline from which the bigger conversations will be decided. It’s too late to be nice just on the day when we know we have to announce a major upheaval that we want people to embrace.

Building quality relationships occurs with every interaction

In every interaction, you are building trust — or eroding it. Think about these activities and how you are handling them and you will clearly see whether you are building good will or depleting it.

Are you:

  • Aware of the needs of the other person
  • Responding to email messages in a timely way
  • Communicating status of projects even when not asked
  • Being direct and open in addressing issues
  • Accepting responsibility when things aren’t going well
  • Being approachable to all opinions, staying clear on how you feel but non-judgmental about others’ perspective
  • Informed about a subject or curious to know more

This list could be longer, but in my opinion it captures the critical aspects to a relationship that share respect and trust. Without that, persuading someone else is very arduous work. If you are having trouble getting someone to do something, step back to the larger picture and be honest about the overall quality of your relationship. What can you do right now that will create a stronger relationship? 

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