A single sentence to persuade anyone and change any negotiation..

Dec 17 2023

A single sentence that will let you persuade anyone.

This should take: 5 minutes


Today we're going to establish a simple set of questions you can ask yourself to figure out how to influence someone.

Whether you realize it or not, you're trying to influence someone in some way, every day of your life, and most certainly at work. And there's a large variance in how effective people are because it's common to believe that logic is what persuades people.

We are wired to follow those who support our dreams, allay our fears,
confirm our suspicions, justify our failures, and cast stones at our enemies.

It's easy to see this in action in politics. Especially in our current climate, where seeds of distrust are rampant and a single source of truth is impossible to come by.

Watch a Trump rally, or any politician who is talking to their base.

The simple sentence above (original credit to Blair Warren) gives us a framework for how to approach moving the mind of another person.

Let's tackle how to put it into practice:

  • Support their dreams. But what does this actually mean?
  • Calm their fears. How do you do that? What do they fear?
  • Confirm their suspicions. Hmm..
  • Justify their failures.
  • Make their enemies a common one.

Support their dreams.

This is lofty language, but it can be made into common sense. The key here is you have to know what's important to them. And you can find out what's important by asking the right questions.

That doesn't mean you ask them directly about their hopes and dreams. That could work... but it's transparent. Instead

"Help me understand what's top of mind for you?"
"If you had a magic wand and could magically make one problem go away... what would it be?"

Allay their fears.

This is mostly about de-risking the situation for them. The more fear-based they are, the more important. We all have common fears that usually not talked about.

  • The fear of not being good enough, smart enough.
  • The fear of being seen as lower status. (This is HUGE.)
  • The loss of autonomy. Not being able to make your decisions. Loss of freedom.
  • The loss of love, or being abandoned.
  • The fear of uncertainty. (see next section)
  • The fear of rejection or shame.

Take whatever situation you are in and the person you're talking to and run through possible versions of these fears and how they could apply. Then label the fear in a kind, caring way.

You may think that lightly bringing up a fear would deepen it, but fears are like shadows. With no spotlight on them, they can become dark and scary. But when someone else holds up the torch to them, they lighten or disappear.

Confirm their suspicions.

How often have you heard someone say "I knew it!"? When someone confirms something we suspect, there's a feeling of superiority. What do they have uncertainty about? This is a different angle to the previous section.

Many of us tend to think that:

  • Other people had an (unfair?) advantage if they got a better result.
  • Others haven't experienced the same pain that we have.
  • It's probably someone else's fault
  • A large organization (the government) is pulling strings behind the scenes
  • People in power act unfairly.

How often have you heard someone say "I knew it!"? Which of these apply to your situation? What questions could you ask to dig into it deeper?

Justify their failures.

This one is simple. Make sure that you instill the idea that

"It's not your fault."

This can be said directly, or indirectly. No one wants to take responsibility when things don't go as planned.

Cast stones at their enemies.

Thing about how prevalent gossip is in communities across the world. Nothing bonds people like a common enemy.

Remember that everyone you meet is struggling with something. And while the situation might vary, the emotions that comes with it are nearly in all of us.

Put it into action.

I was tempted to go deeper into each section of this, but it would turn this into a book instead of a newsletter. I'll dig more into each of these in future issues and if you follow along on Instagram, I like to make videos with examples there.

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from you! What negotiation or persuasion situations have you come across recently? Hit reply and I'll promise to write back.

See you next week.

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