When you’re trying to persuade employees, it’s tempting to list all the reasons you think you’re right. You may figure if you cite enough evidence, you’ll break down others’ resistance and they’ll agree with you.
But reason alone may not suffice.
Persuasion gets easier when leaders use techniques that induce compliance. Research shows that the way you frame your message can affect whether others decide to go along or resist. Apply these strategies:
1. Harness the consensus view. Identify what most people think or do—and then use the consensus to appeal to others. When hotels tell guests, “75% of those who stay in this room reuse their towels,” the reuse rate increases 33%.
If you want staffers to adhere to a certain procedure, you might tell them that two-thirds of employees in your previous job followed the same policy and found it saved time.
2. Give before you receive. Psychologists have discovered that when you give something to others, they’re more apt to reciprocate. Why? Once they accept something from you—even if it has modest value—they’ll feel like they should pay you back.
To woo employees to accept unpalatable changes, start by giving away perks or gifts of appreciation.
3. Focus on losses, not gains. People tend to dread losing what they have more than gaining what they lack. So to influence employees, pinpoint what’s at stake.
If you seek their buy-in on a series of structural reforms, warn that they might face a pay cut if they reject the changes. That’s better than promising that the reforms might lead to the payment of bonuses.
— Adapted from “The Science Behind Persuading People,” Parminder Bahra, Wall Street Journal.
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