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The Art Of Persuasion

There is one trait that the typical Nigerian is packed with. The hatred for being told what to do! This tendency often multiplies when a leader, be it at the home front, office or social group intends to stir things in a new direction. The outcome is most times, unpleasant- putting it mildly. So, are there ways to make your subordinates buy into our ideas with less stress? Let’s investigate.

Road Map

Imagine boarding a bus heading for a particular destination and the driver suddenly takes a strange turn. I trust Nigerian passengers to ask questions. A non-satisfactory answer can grind that trip to a halt- literally. Instincts of people when talking them into an idea or strategy which is alien to them is not any different. Humans are not endowed with ‘X-ray vision’. So prepare to reel out this ‘head-ridden’ grand plan of yours in detail- 3D style! In cases where you don’t have it that clear to you, endeavour to explain in the best way you can. Openness has a scent that endears people.

The Fiery Test

Having structured your wonderful plan into details, and rubbing your hands together in admiration of your brainy conception, it is only natural to want to brandish this idea for everyone to see. Kindly apply the brakes and make a brief stop at the ‘Critics Lodge’. This is the part where you watch your lovely masterpiece go through the fire. And in some cases, die a natural death. While this exercise can be very excruciating, it is the one thing that can help plug loopholes that had never occurred to you. So before pitching your idea to those you really intend to get on board with, get a trusted one who specializes in brazen honesty. It’s a bitter pill which does a whole lot of good.

Go Soft.

When faced with a situation where our vision as persons in authority is at risk of being opposed, the common tendency is to activate the ‘hostility button’. The plan is to intimidate any contrary opinion into silence. And guess what? It works! Most of the time at least. But the real measurement of your victory is in the aftermath. Do not be surprised when your people turn out to be as nonchalant as a five-year-old kept in charge of the stock market. What most people don’t realize is that hostility has a way of shutting you out of the minds of the very people you are trying to motivate. Consider going soft. It works wonders.

The Miracle Phrase

The natural side effect of going soft is that people would most likely be willing to open up regarding what they really think. Now, this is the point where activating the ‘patience button’ will come in super-handy. This is mainly for two reasons. Firstly, chances are very high that you would hear all sorts including those you would feel like snatching out of your eardrums. Secondly, because it is important that you play cool through all of this. Or else, your listeners would get the impression that your ‘go soft mode’ is not genuine. One phrase I have found to work miracles is, “I see your point”. It has a way of making people feel relaxed even when you are ripping their opinion to pieces (nicely though).

Have A Buffet

Note that how you end this meeting is very crucial to saving all the work you have done thus far. It is usually best to go over this new plan again. It gets people on the same page. But what would be grand is that this review of the plan is actually a ‘reviewed plan’. Have a buffet. Take a bit of something each person chipped in- even if it’s just a sentence credited to them. Achieving this requires wisdom and emotional maturity that doesn’t come easy. But once you can get this done, their loyalty towards this dream is sealed!

For a people who don’t like being told what to do, your best bet might be to make them feel like they are ‘not’ being told what to do.  Why not give it a try?

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Chioma Diru is a prolific writer, agricultural entrepreneur and life coach with a heart for children. Chioma works freelance for the BBC Media Action. Her work titled “The Twin Logs” was nominated for the Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize, 2016. She is Creative Director and Co-founder, Canuli Media which specializes in children’s entertainment. She is the author of “Sodality”, a children’s novel which you can buy here.Email her: chiomadiru@gmail.com.

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