Coach’s Corner – Why Persuasion is Better Than Force (Part 2)
Force is like a hammer. When leaders only use force, everything looks like a nail. As I pointed out in “Part 1 – Why Persuasion is Better Than Force,” using force may get the job done, while damaging the most prized possession in the process. That prized possession is our people!
What’s at stake?
The cost of using force with others is the creation of fear, the lack of trust, and the lack of safety due to impending punishment and repercussion. When people live with a constant expectation that the hammer will fall, fighting or fleeing for survival is the most you can hope for, while the least will passively give-up and give-in. That’s not a very desirable person to have on your team and in your organization.
To me, force creates a Do-Think-Do state of mind (even the addition of “think” might be too optimistic). Whereas persuasion can lead others to Think-Do-Think. What you inspire through persuasion is planning, creativity, reflection and learning in people. What you have is a person who becomes an engaged and productive member of your team and society.
So how do we persuade and inspire our people?
According to Chris Voss, FBI hostage negotiator and author, the objective is not forcing but persuading others that it is in their best interest to help you, to volunteer, or to solve the problem. This begins with having self-awareness and self-control over our own emotions, so that we don’t provoke or escalate any negative reactions in those we want to persuade. He also advocates asking questions to increase our understanding of others’ positions. Specifically he speaks of asking “calibrated questions” that are open-ended questions strategically designed to shift control or ownership over to others.
I love how relevant and applicable this approach is for many scenarios in our lives. I doubt I will be negotiating a hostage-release any time soon. However, with some practice, I’m confident I’ll be able to convince my son to clean up his room.
Here’s how Stephen Covey illustrates the power of persuasion:
Some more practical tips I’ve gathered from servant leaders who advocate persuasion over force:
- Instead of talking, listen.
- Instead of telling, ask.
- Instead of close-end questions, open (how? or what?).
- Instead of criticizing, encourage.
- Instead of controlling, believe.
- Instead of going solo, partner.
Leaders need to make a deeper commitment beyond simply understanding why persuasion is preferable to force. The transition from tolerating to accepting is the same type of commitment leaders need to make in order to become compassionate, empathetic and inspiring leaders who can access the full potential of the people.
Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.