likable people want without thinking about
it. It just seems to come naturally. So
finding something in common with
your employees can go a long way
toward increasing your likability.
Expertize relates to our tendency to
believe what experts tell us. Employees
like to listen to those who are knowl-
edgeable and trustworthy. If you can
show those two traits, you are well on
your way to getting your team members
to believe in you and listen to you.
Mirroring is a persuasion skill that is a bit
difficult to master but extraordinarily powerful
and definitely worth striving to learn. Mirroring has both physical and
Physical mirroring is exactly what it sounds like. Done skillfully, this
creates a very deep rapport—with the employee not consciously realizing
it or understanding why. Voice cadence can also be mirrored.
Warning: There’s a serious danger attached to this technique. If your
employee picks up the mimicry he may feel offended and feel he is
being mocked. That would be a sure way to destroy your bond. You
can avoid this problem by mirroring slightly out of sync.
Psychologically, mirroring can take the form of learning as much as
possible about an employee before meeting with them. Learn what their
problems are. Then you could talk about yourself being in the same
predicament. That will put you in just the same frame of mind as the
employee. This will help make your rapport much stronger.
REDUCING COGNITIVE DISSONANCE
Reducing cognitive dissonance is an approach developed by social
psychologists. Humans strive for internal consistency. Cognitive dissonance is the stress a person feels when that consistency is missing.
The savvy supervisor will induce cognitive dissonance in employees
by pointing out how their actual behavior is out of whack with their
stated goals. He can then help reduce the employees’ dissonance by outlining the behaviors desired that will be consonant with their aspirations.
Persuasion is an art. If you push too hard, you will come across as
aggressive. If you nudge too lightly, you may be ignored and just seen
as an annoyance. By being thoughtfully persuasive, using the methods
described here, you will increase the odds of getting what you want from
your employees, who will happily do what you want.
Besides his clinical work and university teaching, Martin Seidenfeld, Ph.D., provides consulting to organizations on management
issues and on managing organizational stress.
By definition, managers accomplish their goals by get- ting their workers to perform necessary tasks. Sure, the manager can just bark out orders.
But in today's world—and workplace—where
autonomy and respectful interactions are highly
valued, that just won’t cut it. Managers must
practice the gentle art of persuasion.
According to Merriam-Webster, persuasion
is “the act of causing people to do or believe
something . . .” Persuading your employees to do
their jobs and believe in its value is going to get you
more cooperation, a higher level of motivation, and better
performance, than simply ordering your employees to perform.
How can you successfully persuade your employees?
Conditioning works by connecting a positive emotion to a specific
behavior, a well-known method used all the time. For example, you
might first thank an employee for excellently performing a certain task
and then assigning another task. By linking the positive reinforcement of
showing appreciation with assigning a new task, the employee becomes
conditioned to do the new task well, so he can again receive praise.
Reciprocity is simply the old idea of tit-for-tat. If someone provides us
with something, we want to repay him or her in kind. Reciprocation produces a sense of obligation, which can be a powerful management tool
for persuasion. We don’t like people who neglect to return a favor or provide some payback when offered a free service or gift. This social norm
makes reciprocity a powerful persuasive technique.
Commitment is an effective persuasive technique because when you
get an employees to make a promise, they are likely to persuade themselves to keep their promise. People like to believe they are trustworthy
and keep their word. A manager would do well, after discussing an
assignment with an employee, to obtain a commitment, by asking,
“Can I count on you for this?”
Likability is based on the fact that people want to please those they like.
Two major factors contribute to overall liking: physical attractiveness and
similarity. Like it or not, there is ample evidence that those who are more
physically attractive are more persuasive, more often get what they want,
and relatively easily change others' attitudes. Taking care with your dress
and personal grooming, making yourself as physically attractive as possible is probably more important than you think.
The similarity part of likability means that if people believe they are
like you, they are more likely to say “yes” to what you ask of them. To
a great extent people respond to likability unconsciously. We do what
ASK DR.MARTY | Martin Seidenfeld, Ph.D.
46 OCTOBER 2014 ALNmag.com
Manager as persuader