6 persuasion strategies for education leaders in the digital age

The ABCs of persuasion are no longer “always be closing,” Pink said. Instead, the new ABCs are “attunement, buoyancy, and clarity.”

Attunement means seeing things from others’ perspective, Pink explained. Buoyancy refers to the ability to “stay afloat in a sea of rejection,” and clarity means moving from presenting information to curating it, or helping the people you’re trying to persuade make sense of the information.

Here are six research-based strategies for persuasion in the digital age, based on these new “ABCs”:

1. Briefly reduce your feelings of power.

Studies show that feeling powerful reduces our ability to adopt the perspective of others, Pink said. He recommended: “Instead of saying, ‘Do this,’ … think, ‘I need this employee more than she needs me.’” Then, you might have a better sense for why she could be resisting—or you might see what’s in it for her to do things differently.

2. Be an ambivert.

We tend to think extroverts make the best salespeople, but research doesn’t bear this out, Pink said. Extroverts are somewhat better at persuasion than introverts—but the most effective persuaders are ambiverts, or people whose personality falls somewhere in between. This is because ambiverts tend to be more attuned, he said; in other words, they “know when to speak up—and when to shut up.”

3. Use interrogative self-talk.

Affirmative self-talk—pumping yourself up by saying things like “you can do it” before an encounter—can help with persuasion, Pink said. But what’s even more effective is “interrogative self-talk,” in which you ask yourself questions instead, such as: “Can I do it?”

“Questions, by their very nature, elicit an active response,” Pink said. This can lead to self-reflection, he explained, which better prepares you for success.

4. Try motivational interviewing.

This technique, which comes from a Yale University researcher, involves asking two questions. The first one is, “On a scale of one to 10, how ready are you to …?”

Most people who are resistant to change will answer between two and four. In this case, the follow-up question should be: “Why didn’t you pick a lower number?”

While this question seems counter-intuitive, it forces the respondent to rationalize their answer. In the course of doing this, they begin to consider their own reasons for making the change—and “that’s more effective” at persuading them in the long run, Pink said.

(In the rare case when someone answers “one,” Pink said your response should be, “What would it take to get you to a three?”)

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