The Negotiator Magazine

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If you're a salesperson, you can present a glorious list of benefits that will descend upon the buyer when they have the common sense to make an investment. But it doesn't mean a thing until you've built the credibility needed to make them believe it.

You may be a manager whose persuasion challenge is to talk a key employee out of quitting. You can talk until you're blue in the face about the wonderful future that awaits them just around the corner, if they stay with your company. But it won't mean a thing until you've convinced them you're sincere, and that you really do have the power to make it happen.

Don't be offended by people's natural unwillingness to believe you. Remember that we live in a world where a thousand advertising messages are screaming at us everyday. We can't possibly believe everything we hear. To take everything at face value in today's world would be a shortcut to disaster. So Power Persuaders learn instinctively to build credibility into their presentations. Never assume they believe you.


I was visiting my son John, when he was a student at Menlo College in Atherton, California. He'd just completed a final and another student asked him how he did on it. "I think I may have aced it," John told him. "All right!" the other boy said, and gave him a high five. A few moments later another boy came by and asked John how he did on the test. "It was tough," John said, "but I hope to get a B."

"What's going on here," I asked John, "you told the first boy that you got an A, and the second that you got a B." "The first guy was the best student on campus, he'd believe I got an A. The second guy would never believe it.

Haven't you learned that you should never tell anyone more than you think they'll believe?" Now that's smart! I don't think a thousand psychologists with an unlimited research budget could come up with a greater truth than that. Even if you're telling the truth, if the other person begins to doubt it, your chance of persuading them is falling like a rock.

Many years ago, I was the merchandise manager for a large department store. We were heavily promotional, which means that our business went up dramatically when we advertised a sale and business died when we didn't. So we'd run a big Sunday, Monday, Tuesday sale, and then come back with a Thursday, Friday, Saturday sale.

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