If you want to convince, you also have to speak AGAINST your case

If you want to persuade someone to do what you want, also speak openly about the alternatives – maybe the opposite of what you desire.

Say you’re asking your boss to fund a major project you’ve been working on. You want his approval badly. Otherwise months of work are for nothing.

The temptation is to concentrate single-mindedly on the reasons why he should approve. It goes against the grain to talk down your own case.

But you have to. Evoke the possibility that the project would be taken no further – to save money or avoid the risk of failure. Talk about other projects which could be given priority.

If you don’t bring these negatives up, he certainly will. He may wait until the end, and throw you on to the back foot with a torrent of objections. You’ll have lost the initiative.

Talking openly about the alternatives shows you are open-minded, not just selfishly playing to your own interests. It shows you can be realistic and objective. It gives you the opportunity to anticipate objections and deal with them in your own way.

It’s tough to speak about unpalatable alternatives openly, but once you’ve spilled them out, you can move on to the powerful reasons why your way is right after all. It’ll sound more convincing.

Good luck.

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One Response to “If you want to convince, you also have to speak AGAINST your case”

  1. PM Hut Says:

    Hi Marcus,

    I like the idea of throwing in the negatives first, and then throwing in the scenarios of what will be the cost to the company if it doesn’t do the project.

    PS: This post reminds me of one of the posts we have published a long time ago on PM Hut, negotation strategies for project managers. Hope you’ll have the chance to read it!

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