“Thaw with his gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor with his hammer. The one melts, the other breaks into pieces.”

– Henry D. Thoreau  

The art of persuasion is an important skill in a manager’s tool kit.  A successful manager doesn’t just direct and delegate. It’s not like writing a sequence of code and then letting the computer do the rest. Managers must also be able to make suggestions to others in a manner that ensures they are heard, and they need to be able to rally the team around goals and objectives. To do so, they must first connect with each team member on a basic level by taking into consideration their individual needs.  

This isn’t about “The Golden Rule” because treating others as you would want to be treated will only take you so far. Therefore, a better approach is understanding the needs of the person you’re engaging with and then working to connect with them based on that information. We’re all wired differently, so when a manager focuses on what resonates for each team member, they have the power to strengthen those relationships. And stronger relationships lead to higher engagement, productivity and a sense of belonging. 

What Gets in the Way 

The problem is that typically, humans approach a given situation with only their own needs in mind, which can shut down communication before it has even begun. For example, when in a crisis, heated argument or stressful situation, emotions often take over. Rational thought and logic flee the scene and what is left is a first instinct that is often wrong. Take this scenario, for example: Imagine a coworker who is hard charging, going 90-to-nothing most of the time vs one who is slow to respond because they take ample time to process before they respond.  One is a “ready, fire, aim” type, while the other might be more like “ready aim, aim, aim.”  

Without proper understanding of each other’s personality type, team members will have a hard time working cohesively, and possibly even be offended by each other’s behaviors. But when we take the time to understand what inspires others or what shuts them down, we can use the art of persuasion to influence our work relationships for the better and meet management goals. All it takes is a few minor tweaks in a manager’s approach to the different personality types.  

Persuasion Techniques 

The ‘D’ type personality is motivated by competition and achievement. They often take charge because they may be questioning whether the other teammates want to win as much as they do. This competitive nature and desire to be out front often makes them look like natural born leaders. And, because others tend to look to them to lead, having a ‘D’ type personality on your side might be to your team’s benefit. When needing to use persuasion, remember to focus on their needs. The ‘D’ personality needs to know what’s in it for them.  Share any benefits that will affect them personally. They won’t want a lot of detail, just the over-arching picture, and if they need more, they’ll ask.  

The ‘I’ type personality is very people oriented (vs task oriented) and are naturally gifted in influencing and persuasion. Teammates are often drawn to their enthusiasm and optimism, so a manager should look to get the ‘i’ type on board. They can be instrumental in helping the rest of the team get excited or at least willing to tackle the next project, goal, or other things coming down the line. To encourage them to get on your side, you’ll need to first meet them where they are. The ‘i’ type needs to verbally process and they are emotionally expressive. So, take the time to hear how and what they’re doing before trying to persuade them to your ideas. Let them feel your approval and appreciation and don’t give them too many details as it might be a bit too much to take in. They’ll fill in the gaps where needed with their own creativity so be willing to allow some of that. 

The ‘S’ type personality is a great collaborator so persuading them to be a part of the team won’t be difficult. They naturally want to support others. But if you’re asking them to change how they do things, you’ll need to tread carefully. The ‘S’ type feels threatened by change. They may nod their heads and smile in the face of confrontation, and then refuse to change their tactics when you aren’t looking. They aren’t intentionally trying to sabotage your plans, but this is a key reminder of why it’s super important to use the art of persuasion to help the ‘S’ type feel more comfortable. This means that if possible, use the BYAF technique that tells them they have a choice. According to a 2013 review of 43 research studies and 22,000 participants, using the ‘but you are free’ (BYAF) technique doubles the chances that someone will say ‘yes’ to a request. The psychology of allowing the other person to make a decision on the subject you’re discussing makes them more likely to agree with you. 

The ‘C’ type personality looks at the world through the lens of logic and analysis. They want as much data as possible before they make decisions because they want to be as accurate as possible. They are extremely valuable on a team because of this but they often don’t really like to ‘team’. They just want to be left alone so they can complete their work in silence and control the outcome. If a manager wants to win them over or encourage them to take the lead on a project, they need to come to the table with data. The more the better. This might come in the form of recent survey statistics, research studies, or logistics. Anything that shows what you’re asking them to do is valuable and valid. And then be prepared to answer all their questions. This isn’t because they don’t trust your plan, they just want to clarify exactly what you mean and what you want from them.  

Trust on a Team  

“Progress happens at the speed of trust.”

– Stephen M. R. Covey 

When managers take the time to get to know the different personality types on their team, the act of persuasion will be much easier and responded to more positively. In addition, managers that endeavor to communicate with their teams in this personalized manner will build relationships founded on trust and respect. And trust is the cohesive team’s superpower. Teams with high trust communicate and collaborate more effectively than those without trust.  

Sadly, some still view the idea of ‘trust’ as a poor alternative to productivity. The truth however has been revealed by Accenture, who’s research shows that when trust drops by a mere 2 points, EBITDA is compromised and decreases by 9.8% (global average)!! Therefore, trust or the lack thereof can seriously impact the bottom line, and this is crucial for managers to understand. Without trust, it’s difficult to progress no matter how skilled a manager is in persuasion. 

Setting managers up for success is what we do at Brilliant People™. Call us today for more information.  

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