How do you get others to support you? Think like you do? Not agree, but provide you with what you need based on data? What are you trying to convince people/decision makers “of?”

Your value? The benefits of your services or resources? That you are a professional in your work?

And sadly, why you/your service should exist shouldn't be a question, but sometimes it is. There are also ongoing budget questions such as why you need the same level of funding and why you need new money. Other questions might include why you want to move money - either temporarily or permanently - from one account or area to another.  A question that is always asked is why you need larger sums of money... new buildings, technology, new staff...and basic budget questions are always…..

  • How did you arrive at the budget figures in your request?

  • Why did you choose x over y?

  • Why should I support you? Your service, resources, etc.

So…what gets the attention of decision makers?

  • Visuals ….Design…. Layouts…Color… Pictures…Videos… Yours/others… Testimonials….Expert testimony…

  • Unusual information…Social Networking information/data gathered

  • Unique data

  • Contrast and comparison information

  • Compelling data (length of time, depth of information)

  • Pathos

  • Mandates

  • Unique approach to gathering the information presented

  • Establishing relationships and context

  • The “will of the people” (example: overwhelming numbers, significant data from target populations)

  • The opportunity for leadership

  • Opportunities for recognition

  • Challenges

  • Branding

  • Visions

  • Expert information

What persuades and/or convinces decision makers/decisions?

When choosing your message or designing budget justification and picking the perfect data to persuade we realize that there are many permutations to the persuasion process – especially where money in concerned…so we need to break down

  • Getting people’s attention and then getting them to listen to us
  • Getting people to think about things we want them to think about/consider in a positive way
  • Getting people to support (and/or fund) part/all of our needs/requests
  • Getting people to carry our message to others
  • Getting people to carry forward our specific needs to others

So, what is persuasion?

Persuasion – considered to be both an art AND a science - is the process of moving others by argument to a position or course of action either temporarily or permanently. A topic of research for many years, the study of persuasion includes:

  • What the unique aspects or techniques of persuasion ARE; 
  • Ways to increase the likelihood of someone saying yes to requests when they are asked;
  • Ways to get someone to not only say yes but also say yes AND change their attitude to our request;
  • Ways to get others to say yes and change their perceptions; and,
  • Ways to get others to say yes and change their behavior.

Persuasion is considered to be most viable/possible approach when a number of elements are present. These elements include:

  1. The most successful messages delivered are those that convince others of a need and then support presentation and discussion of the need with data.
  1. If two messages must be delivered, one desirable and one not or less than desirable, the more desirable message should be presented first.
  1. Message presentations should include repetition of the need and supporting data for the best learning and anticipated success and acceptance.
  1. Presenters should stress similarities rather than differences of those involved in discussions/those you are trying to persuade.
  1. Both sides of issue should be presented in discussions and during the presentation of pros and cons, the communicator’s favored viewpoint should be presented last as listeners – typically not familiar with an argument - remember the end better than the beginning or the middle.
  1. Closure or summary statements and conclusions should be stated explicitly.
  1. Presenters should stress the desirability of the argument to all groups involved.
  1. Messages that require the greatest amount of opinion change are likely to produce the most change.

Carl I. Houland1

What are persuasion techniques or principles?

  1. Principle of Reciprocation - I owe you
  1. Principle of Scarcity - You want what you can’t have
  1. Principle of Authority - Experts say it, it’s true…you are the expert
  1. Principle of Consistency/Commitment - support in past for future
  1. Principle of Consensus – others are making the good decision
  1. Principle of Liking-relationship, admiration, awareness of quality

Some persuasion principles work better with some cultures than others.

  • U.S. - best persuaded with RECIPROCATION/Has this person done me a favor lately?
  • Asia - best persuaded if the requestor has AUTHORITY/connected to senior members of group?
  • Spain/Latin Countries- best persuaded because of LIKING …Is this connected to my friends?
  • Germany- best persuaded if the request was CONSISTENT with the rules and regulations of the organization.

Specific uses of persuasion principles include:

  • Principle of Reciprocation

    • Description

      • Societies are based on a concept "I am obligated to give back to you the form of behavior that you gave to me. If you gave me a favor, I owe you a favor. In the context of obligation people say YES to those they owe.

      • It works because groups that play by the rules of reciprocal exchange gain a competitive advantage.  Members of a group can call on other members of the group because when they send resources they aren’t sending them “away.” What you "give" is a credit.

      • We need to master the art of “exchange.” WHY? It sets the tone for partnerships to be formed.

      • Arguments for persuasion and reciprocation should have multiple opportunities for success, that is, those persuading should be ready with alternative requests if the first request is not possible.

    • How might we use this?

      • Our libraries provide materials to support community school libraries/area students such as…(school librarians can support the public library budget)]

      • Library resources support standardized testing for schools by providing…

      • Our librarians support new community populations in these ways…(libraries go forward in partnership with the county immigration/agency to request dollars or to apply for a grant, etc.)

      • Children’s collections support homework help by…

      • Association activities provide unique content not available at…funding spent in the aggregate (train the trainer) can free up x training money in two other areas.

  • Principle of Scarcity

    • Description

      • Scarcity of commodities is a major persuasion factor for people. Research shows that the merits of something don’t matter as much as context…people want what they can’t have. How do you use this to persuade?

        • When you present an idea, explain what it is they will get that they can’t get anywhere else…

        • Tell them the bundle of advantages they will get if they move in your direction.

        • Data show it is not enough to say what people will gain…people more motivated by what they will lose…SO we explain the unique benefits they stand to lose if they don’t “go your way."

        • Many people avoid this because they think they are threatening others but use language that is neutral.

          • Example: People have had access to something, now they won't…Rather than IF YOU DON'T think/vote my way, this is what will happen to you/your constituents….etc.

      • Scarcity works even better when you add the concept of "exclusive information.” When you get a new piece of information/unpublished report available…if it supports what you want to argue…give it to the select people as soon as you can.

    • How might we use this?

      • Don't only tell them what their decision or support will gain if they fund us…tell them specifically what they will lose and be specific.

      • If children’s services doesn’t get the full operating request, we will…

        • …lose these resources (be specific)…

        • ….lose access to the following…

      • and not just “they” will lose but targeted information as to what their specific constituents will lose…such as…

        • ….the x branch will lose…

        • ….the students enrolled in …. will no longer be able to…

      • Support persuasive arguments with value statements, testimonials, expert opinion and more objective data such as outcomes, strategic plans, community plans, county economic development statistics, standardized test documents …

      • Give them data that “only they have” or create unique data just for them….a report that provides them with specialized information just for their discipline or departments.

  • Principle of Authority

    • Description

      • If an expert says it, it must be true…everyone's perception is that the most powerful have knowledge and trustworthiness.

      • SO we want them to realize your knowledge and we need to establish your trustworthiness and we want to present your idea as a credible one …one they can trust…then convince them it's the best for them.

      • SO, before you present your strongest arguments as to why you are trying to persuade others, raise your weakness first and tell them your strongest points outweigh/overwhelm the weaknesses.

      • If you and your ideas have strengths and weaknesses, present the weaknesses FIRST and SECOND present your STRENGTHS. This establishes you (or your idea) first as trustworthy or credible (you told us your weakness or the weakness of the idea first) then as an expert (or why the idea is so good.)

    • How might we use this?

      • When delivering or asking for support/persuading others to support your message validate the credentials of your services and the credentials or expertise of the people presenting or attempting to persuade.

      • If your expectation is that those whom you  are trying to persuade are best persuaded by the principle of authority, match the presenter based on their credentials or expertise.

      • This principle also works by sending individuals to persuade those who have served on the same committees and/or those who have had similar successes.

      • Messages should be validated during the process of persuasion by separating the argument with the weaknesses first and the strengths second such as:

        • The library is requesting additional money to support expanded summer club activities with longer hours but they won’t meet all the needs of community. During the persuasion arguments, those presenting should begin by stating what/who the hours won’t serve first, then close by highlighting what the library will be able to achieve and for whom with the additional funding.

  • Principle of Consistency

    • Description

      • Consistency and commitment

        • We want to get people to say yes to us AND
        • to identify if they have done it in the past and

        • we want them to continue to support us by telling us verbally

        • and in writing commitment to telling us they will do it.

      • Getting people to yes is not just the nod and smile but our goal is to include public commitment and if we can written commitment. Language that works is…

      • Rather than saying…we hope you will, SAY

        • ………………would you please?

        • or when can you?………………

    • How might we use this?

      • Persuasive arguments for  libraries and library workers for consistency include:

      • Choosing frequent supporters of the library to carry the message and asking them specifically:

      • We need to take our message to the community and ask them to send emails to the County Commissioners …or vote for library services requests …or we need your vote when children’s services are placed in front of the Council.

        • Can we count on you to support us in the …..?

        • Will you send an email to you colleagues in support of us?

        • Will you be featured as a supporting (parent, principal, non-profit agency) when we put supporting statements/endorsements on our website?

        • Will you ‘testify’ for us before the (Council, Board, etc.) by talking about your project and how library e-resources made it possible to do your project remotely?

  • Principle of Consensus

    • Description

      • “A lot of other people are doing, therefore, it must be the right thing.”

      • People have to identify with or relate to or understand the "other people" who you are speaking of.

      • Bringing in general names and general categories doesn't work as well as saying people like them who are "signing on" to your idea/request/saying yes.

    • How might we use this?

      • All of the Head Start directors are supporting us in our request and are linking our webpage to their program web pages. We would like the x link their pages as well. Can you speak to x to request they support us?

      • The tutors for the junior high school next door to the branch library are attending our training to assist their students in identifying appropriate research. Can you send an email to your tutors requesting they attend training and link their pages to our resources? And that a representative of the group work with us on our budget presentation to the director.

  • Principle of Liking

    • Description

      • People like to say yes or people can be persuaded when:

        • They are aware that others are involved whom they like and who are like them

        • When they are complimented and thanked for doing a good job and

        • When they feel they are part of the whole who are working together for success.

    • How might use this?

      • You have been chosen to carry this message because you have been so supportive of the library in the past and we are such admirers of your work on the Library Advisory Committee.

      • We would like to feature your library support on the website, thanking you for your letter of endorsement.

      • Please accept our invitation to speak to the library staff on the role/value of children’s services in the city.

      • We are presenting this workshop to provide unique training to thank library partners who have supported us during the year in our quest for expanded technology for the children’s department. We would like to provide a basis for an ongoing dialog with groups to continue the discussion for next year’s budget request for expanded tech training for our children’s services partners in the community.

  1. Hovland, Carl I.; Janis, Irving L.; and Kelley, Harold H. “Communication and persuasion; psychological studies of opinion change.” New Haven, CT, US: Yale University Press. (1953) xii 315 pp.