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Your frame of reference or mine?

You go to a department store and buy $300 worth of stuff.  To pay for it, you present a general purpose credit card.  The clerk tells you that you can save 10% immediately if you apply for a department store credit card.  From the clerk’s perspective, it’s a very logical argument — save $30 just by doing a little paper work.  Your perspective may be different — it’s one more card to manage, one more bill to pay each month, and so on.  If you’re like me, you’ll decline the offer.  The long-term hassles outweigh the short-term benefits.

What we have here is a frame-of-reference issue.  The clerk’s frame of reference is much narrower than yours.  The clerk’s argument is very logical; indeed, it’s airtight.  But your frame of reference allows more information in and you decline the offer.

To be persuasive in an argument, your communication skills should include the ability to argue logically within your audience’s frame of reference.  To do that, you need to know your audience better than your business or product. Learn more in this week’s video.

Defending Yourself – Is It Really About You?

Has anyone ever unloaded on you verbally? What did you do to defend yourself? Did you lash back? Did you raise your voice? Did you assume that it was about you?

People may lash out at you verbally for many different reasons. They’re having a bad day. Their boss unloaded on them. They didn’t get that promotion. They had a fender bender on the way to work. It’s not always about you. Reacting as if it were about you can make a bad situation worse.

It’s a good time to use your listening skills – ask questions. A few simple questions can clarify the situation, allowing you to choose an appropriate response. If it’s really not about you, then a sympathetic response may be much more appropriate than an angry response. Even if your questions don’t clarify the situation, asking them will give you a little time to think and react with wisdom rather than impulse.

What questions should you ask? Watch the video.

Evaluating Logic Logically

Where you stand depends on where you sit.  If you sit in the Republican caucus, you’ll judge the logic of a Democratic speaker very stringently.  If you sit in the Democratic caucus, you’ll judge the same logic much more leniently.  A neutral observer might judge the same logic in a more balanced manner — but is there really such a thing as a “neutral observer”?  The truth is that we don’t evaluate logic logically.  We trust the logic of those we trust.  We don’t trust the logic of those we don’t trust. Trust is central to the art of persuasion.  Your logic will be accepted much more readily if your audience trusts you.

Disagreeing Effectively

Let’s say you’re having an argument and your opponent has stated his position clearly. You’d like to persuade him to change his position. But you’re working against the consistency principle — once your opponent has stated a position, inertia keeps him from changing it. Your argument needs to be clear and compelling but it also needs to provide a way for your opponent to change positions gracefully. While it may be tempting, making your opponent feel small or cornered is usually unsuccessful. Remember, you’re interested in persuading, not humiliating.  Similarly, making your argument overly abstract doesn’t do much good. You need to get personal and stay positive.  Learn more in the video.

This tip has a lot to do with the consistency principle — and how to overcome it.  You can find more on the consistency principle here.

Reasoning precedes decision-making, doesn’t it?

It’s often said that the best missionary for a religion is someone who recently converted to that religion.  Why is that?  When people make a decision — especially a big decision — they go through a reasoning process to help them make the best decision.  We often assume that this process happens before the decision is made.  In reality, people continue to look for validating reasons even after the decision is made.  They often put a lot of energy into convincing other people that they made the right choice — they proselytize their colleagues to support and reinforce their decision.  You can use this energy in your persuasive communications.  Watch the video.

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