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Persuasion with a hint of spice

Have you ever gone into a conversation with a specific mindset, only to come out of it realising you had just been skilfully convinced of the opposite? Being able to influence others while making them feel valued and respected is such an art – and one worth mastering particularly for managers and leaders.

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 1.50.19 pmHave you ever gone into a conversation with a specific mindset, only to come out of it realising you had just been skilfully convinced of the opposite? Being able to influence others while making them feel valued and respected is such an art – and one worth mastering particularly for managers and leaders.

I was reminded of a persuasion model developed by Kevin Dutton while going through an old issue of Scientific American Mind (March/April 2010). His model is better known under the acronym of SPICE and it stands for:

Simplicity – There must be simplicity in how the message is delivered – even the typeface has an impact on your stakeholders’ perception of your message. Another rule of simplicity is to ‘tell them in threes’ – make your argument short, sharp and simple (in threes!). The third word in such a ‘tricolon’ serves to confirm and complete your point. More than three and you risk going on and on; fewer than three and your argument falls short.

Perceived self-interest – People like to think that their interest is taken at heart. Making them believe they are receiving something for nothing will always work a treat. For example, photography studios often offer a free photo shoot with makeup and hairdressing included, which can seem like an incredible deal. The catch comes when you feel pushed into buying photos at more than $200 a print – “But I can’t let them have done all this work for me for nothing!”

Incongruity – Surprise people; do something different or weird; make them laugh. Incongruity not only gains our attention, but research shows it disables our brain’s cognitive functioning which makes us much more open to suggestion. Whether your company culture is progressive or conservative, small elements of surprise integrated into your communications can impact the acceptance of your message.

Confidence – Confidence has an air of credibility; it makes us believe it is true. Use specific, active and positive words in your writing and speaking to inspire confidence.

Empathy – Empathy leads to trust so show your stakeholders you care for them and you will more easily gain their support.

Can you think of times when you have used elements of simplicity, perceived self-interest, incongruity, confidence and/or empathy in your communications? Which one do you feel you need some practice with? ‘Incongruity’ would be for me the element I use the least. So perhaps it’s time I surprise a little more…

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