Influencing People – “I think” or “I feel”, which Persuades You the Most?

ID-10086141Everyday people try to persuade us. Politicians, family member, managers and  organisations do their best to convince us that their idea, product or solution is the only alternative or the ultimate and best. We work hard to convince friends and families that our point of view is superior. The influencing game is hard and often the word influencing is linked to manipulating. Manipulating people is bad.

But influencing is simply getting someone to do what you want them to do. Influencing people means to explore ways to ensure that your message is understood and well presented. Using skills to influence people is about understanding and awareness of the effect you have on others. It is a give and take relationship and before you can take you need to give.

People are more willing to meet you halfway if they feel:

  • Acknowledged
  • Understood
  • Appreciated.

An important factor is understanding people’s motivations. Good communication skills can lead to people agreeing to something they would not considered before. The good and positive feelings lead to changes in the direction you may have wished. You will never be able to influence someone by yelling, screaming, or being pushy. Influencing is not the same as forcing. But you may have to try several times and change strategy before you reach your goal. Patience is  important.

A balanced and well presented arguments is more persuasive. So spending time thinking about how to present an idea is important. Explore and examine the way you are interacting and communicating with other people.

“I think” or “I feel”, which persuades?

Nowadays people tend to use ‘I think’ and ‘I feel’ interchangeably. For some this is a linguistic faux pas, but what about psychologically? Does it make any difference whether what you say is couched in ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’ terms?

On the surface the difference seems very slight. “I feel this idea is superior,” and “I think this idea is superior,” send much the same message. Or do they? It might depend upon the subject or the person/group you are trying to influence. Thinking about a subject in cognitive terms means that it is easier to persuade us by using a message frame in terms of thinking. While using emotional terms to describe something means that we are easier persuade by “I feel” messages. Thus a message should match the individual preferences.

An emotional message is often regarded as less effective than a thinking based message and this is not necessarily true. How effective you are in influencing a person depends on their preference. And their preferences may change depending upon the subject, the weather. . . So a flexible approach is more likely to be successful.

Here is a link to an article about the importance of government policy makers  learning to listen to  academics. Or how academics should learn to influence policy makers.

Photo: “Stressed Man among Question Marks” by Master isolated image

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