Persuasion and Influence

“You can win more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Or, as Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Tart words make no friends: spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.”

One of the most invaluable skills to acquire in the world is being able to deal with others. In doing so, one must learn how to have a conversation as opposed to a war of words. This requires developing skills in rhetoric and persuasion. Anyone can get stressed at varying degrees. It is how one handles that stressful person that increases the likelihood that they can be persuaded, or at least maintain diplomatic relations between them. The idea that they are opposing, and the very idea that is to be persuaded, is not likely to be bought or sold if the seller is not perceived in a positive light. It is wise for people to learn to create positive light for others through one’s words and actions, to better the chances that the message one values can become valued by others that they are presenting to. Consider whether those words chosen draw people closer like honey attracts various creatures for sweet sustenance, or if those words are pushing others away by souring the food for thought like vinegar can.

“It’s not how intelligent or smart a person is that matters, rather it is how they treat others.”

In our professional lives, and in our personal lives, others are selected for opportunities that we believe ourselves to be more qualified for or more capable of accomplishing. It may or may not be a fact that they are more qualified, but there is certainly one thing we can do to improve our chances of accomplishing our goal of positive influence. That is by honing our capabilities in the art of persuasion, as a required soft skill for success, while being able to instill an environment for furthering connections among others.

Notice how the vast majority of those in high paying executive positions are elected because they have already made enough people happy around them to gain their confidence in trust and leadership itself. Sure, they gain more of a following with a title, but they attained many of their base relationships far prior to their promotion.

We may ask ourselves how they did such. Was it through manipulation? Was it genuine? Was it luck? Was it a little bit of everything? Are they really that much different as people compared to us and others? Maybe, or maybe not. Something the vast majority of efficacious leaders have in common is their superb people skills, which includes emotional intelligence.

To enhance one’s opportunities through improved people skills is in one’s best interest to better their circumstances, generally speaking. Equally, by taking a scientific approach through testing out people skills with greatest sincere effort, will help better understand the appropriate adjustments necessary for improvement, personally and/or interpersonally.

“The way we treat people we strongly disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love, compassion, and kindness.”

We meet people from different cultures and backgrounds who have the same or opposing views from our own. We may even have differences with people from our own neighborhood and family. This should not come as a surprise, especially if living in a larger metropolitan area. If one were to bump heads with every person who differs or disagrees with them, they’d be left with far fewer friends and with even fewer opportunities. Instead, when we present ourselves in a position of understanding, patience, and kindness, the person with the differing views will tend to reciprocate. If they do not respond in kind, the persistence of a gentler response will eventually either wear their defenses or clearly demonstrate that they are not willing or capable of valuing the relationship the same way. We cannot win over every person. We cannot be friends with every person. Do not burn that bridge, just simply move past or move on. How we demonstrate our own standing in love, compassion, and kindness, displays our strength in our convictions and confidence within ourselves without the need of coercing others.

“People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

After meeting many people it is normal to begin forgetting names or even conversations, but faces and the way that person made you feel are usually remembered if a strong enough connection is made. This is a normal characteristic of being human—forgetting the perceived unnecessary information. It is also a human trait to like others who are similar to ourselves. When we understand the psychology of others, we are able to use that to our advantage; not in a manipulative manner, rather in a persuasive manner.

Consider the following visualization tool when speaking with someone else:

Two people are standing at a table and each time one person shares an idea or point, they are laying a new object on the table. If we clutter the table with our own ideas, there is little-to-no room left for the other person. If we only talk about our items on the table and never address the other person’s items, they are left feeling ignored or unappreciated. When the other person does bring out an item, we should kindly address it, as though it were an elementary show-and-tell as opposed to disregarding the person or their item.

Recommended Reading:

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Art of Persuasion: Winning Without Intimidation by Bob Burg
Rhetoric by Aristotle

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Joshua D. Glawson

Joshua D. Glawson is a writer, speaker, and guest lecturer on political philosophy and economics. He resides in California.

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