Thursday, September 1, 2011

How Persuasive Are You? 18 Ways To Get What You Want

For the past two decades I’ve looked for ways to persuade others to do things, whether it’s convincing the news media to cover my client or seeking to get a potential client to hire my firm for PR services, or attempting to get a colleague to perform better.  Really for all of life, we are always trying to get someone to do what we want them to do.  So how do you do it?

  1. One would say that in order to get someone to do something for you there has to be an incentive, or some types of reward, reciprocation or favor to be cashed in. If you don’t have something of perceived value to offer, your ability to sway is limited.  Note I said perceived value.  That’s key.  You must assign value based, in part, on what others think something is worth.  Sometimes what cost you little is worth a lot to others, so maybe you have some bargaining chips that won’t set you back too far.

  1. Another way to convince others to take an action is to play on their emotions:  fear, desire, happiness.  Appeal to what seems to trigger a response in them.  Listen to what they say are their concerns and then react accordingly.

  1. Never underestimate the role ego plays in things.  Everyone has an ego, just in different degrees.  If you acknowledge one’s opinion of themselves, you’ll advance far. Never deny someone of their inflated sense of self-worth.

  1. Guilt, to a degree, can work, if the person you deal with is fair-minded.  Appeal to their sense of fairness and reason.

  1. Ethics also can play a role.  People like to help others who seem likeminded and like to do business with those they trust.  Be sure to share statements indicating positive values and state examples of good character and proper behavior.

  1. Another way to persuade is to beg and plea desperation, but this won’t work too often with the same person.  People may feel sorry for you once, not twice.

  1. Complaining and whining won’t always get you what you want but they say the squeaky wheel gets the oil so in certain situations this strategy has a pay-off.

  1. Show a willingness to negotiate and show people you’re not greedy.

  1. Don’t come off as you’re right, they are wrong, or express an all-or-nothing attitude.  Recognize and acknowledge the needs, concerns, and circumstances of the other side.

  1. Threats, lies, cover-ups and other improper or illegal means to persuade will work but they will come back to haunt you. That’s no way to get what you want for the long-term.

  1. Don’t overstate or overvalue your worth.  The marketplace fluctuates and whatever position or situation you are in today may not hold true tomorrow, so act reasonably, fairly, and kindly even if you believe you hold an advantage over someone.

  1. One way to appeal to others is to get to know them and understand what makes them tick.  Look to connect with them on a personable level.  It’s easier to work together as friends, than as strangers.

  1. Be careful not to air strong opinions on sensitive matters, such as politics, sex or religion.  You may offend someone in the process.

  1. Establish your credentials. Let the other person be aware or reminded of your expertise, authority and abilities.  If people feel you are in a position to help them, now or down the road, they are more apt to work with you.

  1. Praise others and kiss their butts. You catch more flies with honey, so lavish others with kind words. However, don’t go too far – people can smell a brown-noser a mile away.

  1. Laugh, smile, and express optimism and confidence. We are all drawn to people who appear resilient and hopeful.  Entertain others with jokes, stories, or insightful information.

  1. Come off as open and sharing.  Give a piece of free advice or offer some type of guidance.  People will welcome such an approach.

  1. Give guidance like a waitress who suggests you order something else when what you ordered is not a good choice. Everyone appreciates your honesty.

Interview With Literary Agent Jeff Herman
Jeff Herman founded The Jeff Herman Literary Agency, LLC, in 1987 when in his 20's. The agency has sold many hundreds of titles to publishers, and is one of the most dynamic and innovative agencies in the business. Herman's own books include, JeffHerman's Guide to Book Editor's, Publishers & Literary Agents (more than 400,000 copies sold), and Write
the Perfect Book Proposal: 10 Proposals That Sold & Why! They are universally considered to be among the best tools available for writers.

  1. Jeff, you founded your own literary agency a quarter-century ago. How has publishing changed for the better – and --worse? When I started there were numerous independent privately owned publishers both in NY and everywhere else. The vast majority of them have either been consumed by larger houses or disappeared. But even the large houses have changed because almost all of them were acquired by huge international conglomerates, for which publishing is a minor concern. I think it would have been much more difficult for me to launch my agency today than it was 20+ years ago.

  1. What do you love about being a part of book publishing? It's exciting to see new book ideas and to meet interesting people who do creative things, and then help them get book deals. That's what keeps the business moving.

  1. What do you look for in an author that you decide to represent? Assuming non-fiction, I'll want to see that he/she has the experience and credentials to match what they are writing about.

  1. What are some of the bigger books/authors you have represented and placed?  I created a dedicated imprint for DAYS OF OUR LIVES soap opera at Sourcebooks. It includes romance novels, calendars and books about the show's history. I also recently created a business book imprint for one of the largest private wealth management firms, Fisher Investments, at Wiley, which already consists of nearly 20 titles about multiple areas of investing.

  1. Which genres do you favor now? All areas of non-fiction remain viable in my view.

  1. You’re also a successful author – do you have a fool for an agent? Perhaps, but I try not to be foolish in practice. I've thought about using an agent for myself, because two heads are better than one, but never tried getting one. It's possible that if an agent pitched me I would have signed with them.

  1. What advice can you impart to wannabe authors? Try to learn about the most common mistakes. This includes understanding that you need to know about your major competition so that you don't inadvertently pitch something that's too similar to existing books. Everything can be tweaked to appear special. It's also wise to know what kinds of categories are the most difficult to publish, so that you can work around it.

  1. What do you make of social media’s hijacking of the publishing conversation? I don't think there ever was much of a publishing conversation in the past apart from insiders talking to each other about the same things, and I'm not seeing that there's a particularly interesting conversation at present, though there is a lot more noise. Sometimes someone says something that's very honest and provocative, but not many people are usually aware of it, including myself. But, social media is a invaluable "word of mouth" opportunity with which to sell books separate from traditional media outlets.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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