Paradigm-shifting paradoxes

“One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears – by listening to them.” ~ Dean Rusk

This is an interesting paradox of life and well worth being awake to thrive.  

When people feel heard and understood, they feel validated and are more likely to consider new ideas and engage in different ways. This engagement can be beneficial to all concerned if there is an authentic connection, bringing newness as a whole. A reminder that the best way to influence is often to be open to being influenced too. 

The most persuasive people don’t only listen, but observe and ask questions with a genuine desire to understand. This helps them share stories of value, rather than trying to bash their point across louder. They certainly don’t argue more.

On the flip side, the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything. It’s been said that persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Thaw with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other breaks into pieces.”

The art of persuasion has a strong emotional element and is always reliant on how a person is made to feel. As recognised by Aristotle more than 2000 years ago, persuasion cannot occur without emotion – we cannot educate the mind without educating the heart. He advocated storytelling as the best means of connecting people at an emotional level. A concept verified by present-day neuroscientists.

This is also evident if one looks at something we are all familiar with from our everyday lives. For example, TED Talks. What is the common denominator of those that rate highest in popularity? They all revolve around a story as their main focal point.

TED curator, Chris Anderson, backs up the fact that the most personal content is the most relatable. He says, “The stories that can generate the best connection are stories about you personally or about people close to you. Tales of failure, awkwardness, misfortune, danger or disaster, told authentically, hastens deep engagement.” 

Again, engaging deeply is emphasised as being necessary to make a difference, and it is evident that it is vital to be aware of the needs of others as well as one’s own in this process. To be open to showing one’s own vulnerability and willingness to be influenced to change.

In Rob Biesenbach’s Biesenblog: Insights on Communication, Storytelling and Presentation Skills, he explains Why Stories are the Key to Persuasion and shows the role of emotion by means of a YouTube clip he shares – entitled: The Elephant, The Rider and the Path – A Tale of Behaviour Change.

The relevance of this is addressed in a Harvard Business Review article by Carmine Gallo – entitled: The Art of Persuasion Hasn’t changed in 2,000 Years. This has been touched on already above and the importance of becoming a master of persuasion to successfully sell your own ideas is highlighted here.

It is said that, “In short, persuasion is no longer a “soft skill”— it is a fundamental skill that can help you attract investors, sell products, build brands, inspire teams, and trigger movements. 

Persuasion is so important to billionaire Warren Buffett that the only diploma he proudly displays in his office is a public-speaking certificate from a Dale Carnegie course. He once told business students that improving their communication skills would boost their professional value by 50% — instantly.”

We at WellsFaber are here to listen to you, to understand you and to assist you to boost your value, even if some gentle persuasion is required from time to time.