Even before the birth of our nation, persuasive tools proved vital for explorers. Witness the story of Luis de Santangel who persuaded Queen Isabella of Spain to reconsider a proposal she had rejected. Because of Santangel’s remarkable skills, Columbus was located and told that his proposal, after all, would be funded by the Spanish government. The rest, of course, is [American] history.
Skip forward 500 years. Move from the macrocosmic to the microcosmic story of Alex Chivescu, whose persuasive words helped him locate a new family. You may have seen him a few years ago on “Good Morning, America.” He’s the 17-year-old who explored the possibility of finding a family to support him. He went from an abusive home situation, to an orphanage, and–through his persuasive letters–into the welcoming and loving arms of a new set of parents.
Your own circumstances may not be historical or familial. But, there are times–probably at least once a day–when you’d like to convince a co-worker, a boss, a family member, et alia that your idea deserves serious consideration. Take this test to find out if you have what it takes on the persuasive front.
How Persuasive Are You? How Persuasive Are You?
1. TO CONVINCE OTHERS YOU ARE CREDIBLE AND TRUSTWORTHY:
A. Cite statistics
B. Share an anecdote
C. Use a combination of statistics and anecdote
2. LEE IACOCCA HAS BEEN NAMED THE SALESPERSON OF THE CENTURY. WHICH OF THESE SENTENCES BELONGS TO THIS PERSUASION-MEISTER:
A. ” It is imperative for us to unite, to grit our teeth, to aspire to new heights.”
B. “For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”
C. “It’s a leader’s job to bring the bad news, to get people to believe things they don’t want to believe, and then to go out and do things they don’t want to do.”
3. A PERSUASIVE LEADER:
A. Listens as much as he or she talks
B. Tells it like it is
C. Enjoys the use power
4. YOU’LL FIND EFFECTIVE PERSUADERS:
A. Using little words
B. Relying on current buzzwords
C. Teaching their followers via “sesquipedalian” words (literally: one and a
half feet long)
5. PARALLELISM (THE DELIBERATE REPETITION OF WORDS OR PHRASES):
A. Is annoying to listeners/readers
B. Creates a monotonous impression
C. Is an effective persuasion-tool
6. “CHIASMUS” REFERS TO:
A. A style of footnoting references
B. An expression that uses a word(s) from the first half of the sentence in a new
way, in the second half of the same sentence
C. A literary device used by scholars
A. Should be provided from a reputable source
B. Sound patronizing
C. Are most effective when newly coined
8. AN EXPRESSION SUCH AS “OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE”:
A. Has lost its effectiveness due to overuse
B. Appeals to a broad spectrum of listeners/readers
C. Reminds us of purpose
9. THE REAL CHALLENGE FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE IS TO GET COMMUNICATION OUT OF INFORMATION, ACCORDING TO
A. President George W. Bush
B. Management expert Peter Drucker
C. Futurist Alvin Toffler
10. METAPHORS (COMPARISONS OF THINGS NOT TYPICALLY COMPARED):
A. According to Aristotle, when understood, represent the beginning of genius
B. According to management-guru Warren Bennis, help effect change
C. According to Jose Ortega y Gasset, philosopher and Spanish Civil War
revolutionary, are the most fertile power on earth
(Give yourself one point for each correct answer.)
1. B. Research by J. Martin and M. Powers found the anecdote by itself was most effective in establishing credibility.
2. C. The gutsy, direct, feisty style of this super-salesman is shown in this sentence.
3. A. “One of the best ways to persuade others is with your ears.” We fully concur with this assertion by statesman Dean Rusk.
4. A. Winston Churchill may have said it best: “Big [wo]men use little words.”
Check out the words of others who have exerted great influence: Reverend Martin Luther King (“I have a dream.”); JFK (“Ask not what your country can do for you.”); Mother Teresa (“We can do no great things–only small things with great love.”).
5. C. One of the best expressions of the post-September 11 era came from the President, when he stood at Ground Zero and responded to a firefighter who couldn’t hear everything the President was saying: “But I can hear you. The whole world can hear you. And very soon, those who destroyed these buildings will hear from all of us.”
6. B. Listen to the persuasive power contained in these unforgettable phrases:
President Jimmy Carter: “America did not invent civil rights. Civil rights invented America.” Jesse Jackson: “I was born in the slums, but the slums were not born in me.” Baseball great Leroy Satchel Paige: “Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
7. C. It’s tedious and seldom informative to hear a dictionary definition. Much more persuasive is an original definition, for example, this by Lon Watters: “School is a building that has four walls with tomorrow inside.”
8. A. Sentences that are overused, obvious truisms lose their power via the sheer force of repetition. To restore power to such a thought, add an original spin. For example, “To protect our future, we must protect our children.”
9. B. Peter Drucker, Father of Modern Management Science, challenges all of us to convert data to meaningful thought.
10. A., B., C. Although they should never be mixed and should be used sparingly, the metaphor can create a truly lasting concept. “The Iron Curtain,” for example, or “The Glass Ceiling.” Warren Bennis once remarked, “If I were to give off-the-cuff advice to someone seeking to institute change, the first question I would ask is, ‘How clear is your metaphor?'”
9-10 You’ve persuaded us! A score this high indicates a true gift. If you’re not in a leadership position, you should be.
5-8 You know a good deal about the power of words. Ideally, you’re using that power both wisely and well.
1-4 If you’re a believer in continuous improvement, you’ll take the time to learn more about how to win ends (i.e achieve goals) and influence people.