You have a position on an issue or a new idea that you believe is right for the organization. In spite of significant effort, the innovation isn’t gaining traction. In fact, there appears to be significant opposition. It can be tempting to throw in the towel, even when you have the facts to support your position. How do you persist when you know you’re right and others aren’t on board?
Persuasion involves more than charisma and charm. Patience, time and a disciplined set of strategies are required.
Shape the discussion. You need to be the one driving the conversation. provide the facts, give the context and connect the dots for others who need to get on board. By all means, include others’ perspectives. Just don’t let them be the spokesperson for the topic.
Infect others. Think of your idea as an epidemic that needs to be spread. Your enthusiasm and ability to articulate your argument can be persuasive tools. Figure out who the key players are in this situation. They may or may not be people in positions of authority. Some people may be “connectors” – individuals with broad social networks who are able to influence others (see Malcom Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point).
Be nice. Forget taking off the gloves; you won’t advance your position by getting into a sparring contest with your opponents. You will score points by punctuating your argument with self-effacing humor and an open mind.
Know your opponents’ position. Play devil’s advocate and come up with every conceivable reason why your idea is terrible. You can then anticipate the opposition’s arguments and be prepared to derail them before they are mentioned. Your adversaries will come up with some unexpected roadblocks, so be ready to think on your feet.
Adjust to new realities. External factors may change the equation. Be prepared to adjust your plan and your persuasive tactics based on new information. This will show a fluid grasp of the situation at hand, and you won’t be caught using last year’s data for this year’s problem.
Outlast them. Be calmly persistent and keep the issue front-of-mind for key people. Sometimes the victor is simply the person who is willing to continue playing the game.
Persistence involves resilience over time and the ability to maintain serenity in the midst of turmoil. Don’t underestimate the power of simply maintaining a forward momentum. As Calvin Coolidge said, “The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Want to be more persistent when the time is right? Or could your team learn some new strategies for “pressing on”? Contact Humanergy.
Photo courtesy of stock.xchng.