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In the past year I was at a seminar (I seem to always be in seminars somewhere) and the presenter was talking about being in the convincing business.  He emphatically said, “that it was our job as advisors to convince our clients”. 

I can’t tell you how much I disagree with that statement.  I’ve thought long and hard about the concept of “convincing others” and have come to the conclusion that it’s almost always a really bad idea.  The only conversation that includes convincing is the conversation that you have with yourself, and even then it’s often a bad idea.

When we try to convince others what is the “right” thing to do, there often are some negative things that go along with this.  Some of them are:

When you convince someone, they will often end up resenting you.  This has happened to me several times.  I’ve thought I was doing someone a big favor by convincing them to do something.  Unless they decide it’s the right thing to do, there is a very good chance they will end up resenting my advice.

Ownership is an important part of the decision process.  If we’re convincing others to do something, we are not allowing them to own their decision.  It becomes too easy to blame someone else when you’ve been convinced.

Ownership is about responsibility.  When I allow myself to be convinced, I’ve given the responsibility for the decision to someone else.  If I’m going to be on the hook for a decision, I want it to be my decision.  I find this is true with others I work with as well.

Convincing others doesn’t show respect.  Every time I’ve tried to convince someone to do something I don’t respect their ability to make their own decisions.  I find that when I back off and allow others to make the decision, I’m showing respect towards around their decision-making prowess.

When I’m asking good questions that shows respect.  When I try to convince someone what he or she should do it shows that I think I know more than they do.  I might have more technical knowledge in certain areas, but decisions are usually around what’s right for someone not which strategy or tactic works best.

Collaboration never includes convincing.  If I try to convince you of something I’m never collaborating with you.  I find relationships that work well are always based on a framework of collaboration.  This true whether it’s a business or personal relationship.

What are your thoughts on convincing versus collaboration?  How do you feel when someone tries to convince you his or her way is the right way?

Josh Patrick

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Topics: communication, Client Communication, business relationship management, communication skills, Client Experience, client collaboration

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