I’ve been involved in a conversation for the past few weeks about the difference between persuasion and influence. The conversation started with the question, “how do you persuade your clients to do something.”
My conclusion is that we shouldn’t persuade, we should help our clients discover options they choose. This fits in with my belief that clients need to stay in charge of the relationship that we have. If we persuade, then we are taking control of the relationship.
Persuasion is about who’s in charge. Or, at least that’s my opinion. If we try to persuade, we also want to take control of the relationship. We start telling others what’s right and what’s wrong. I believe that telling others what’s correct or not is not my job. It is my job to help people discovery what they want to do.
Asking why is not about persuasion. Once our client decides what they want to do, it’s then time to ask why this is important. I believe taking actions without knowing why an action or thing is important can take us down a path we later regret.
Why is the important question in the decision process. I think the Socratic method of discovery provides more value than telling someone my opinion. I believe this method provides more ownership over actions that others take.
How is the step where we get to give our opinion. People often come to us because of an expertise we hold. Our expertise is usually around how to get different things done. Once a client defines what they want to accomplish and why it’s important to do a particular action then we get to give our opinion.
The first step of collaboration is working with a client to help them discover what they want to do and why it’s important. We want to make sure that we’re clear with what the client wants to do and then we can help craft a solution using our expertise.
Influence is being trusted around your opinion. Influence for me is gaining trust from those I’m speaking with. It’s not where I get to manipulate others into doing things I think is right. We all have to live our life in a manner we think is appropriate.
I know I like it when someone asks me why I want to do so something. Often I’ll pause and have to think through my reasons. This very powerful question will sometimes get me to think about a different what because my why is weak.
When we do this with our clients we provide a great service. We help them pause. It’s during the pause we must keep quiet while the client processes why they want to do something. I believe that’s a service many advisors never provide their clients.
What’s your opinion of where influence or persuasion fits into a relationship with others? It’s an area I know I’ll spend more time thinking about. What about you?
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