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You ARE the Persuasive Message – Rich’s Rules for Influence # 3

June 10, 2016

Rich's Rules TitlecardDo you look like someone others would want to meet, date, hire or do business with?  If not, do you care?  And if you do care, what can you do about it?  The power of persuasion – or dissuasion – begins the moment two people encounter one another.

How Image and Impressions Factor into Influence

You probably know right away if you like or trust someone.  It happens so quickly.  And when others meet you, you’re probably considered “in” or “out” in the first few moments.  Image and impressions are a critical part of being persuasive.  Critical, because, whether you like it or not, others will scrutinize you with an eye to detail or a sense that something about you doesn’t quite add up for their purposes or preferences.   Here are a few things people are likely to judge about you in the first few moments of meeting.  ADEPT, or to be perceived as capable, is my personal acronym for getting ready for each business day before I meet a new individual client or a large audience:

  • A = Attitude.   You either have a positive attitude or you don’t.  It will show. Find a way to get your attitude in check before meeting others.
  • D = Dress.  If dressed appropriately for an occasion you’re more likely to score points with the other person – unless you have a skill for favorably pulling off your own unique style.
  • E = Expressions.  People will get their cues from your expressions – or be left guessing for lack thereof.  In which case, they might guess you are cold, indifferent or uncaring.
  • P = Poise.  Do you carry yourself with confidence and grace – or with timidity, discomfort and awkwardness?
  • T = Tone.  Tone of voice is another factor that will reflect a number of things about your attitude when you open your mouth.

Matched vs. Mixed Messages & Persuasion

Given these important factors, it’s recommended you send a matched message, rather than a mixed one.   When you send a matched message with your non-verbal, vocal and verbal communication, you are likely to be perceived as more believable, likable, credible and understandable.  You get a great return on investment if you can manage to create harmony between your gestures, facial expressions, movement, tone of voice and words.  It may be work at times, because certain people and situations will stretch your comfort zone, but usually it is well worth the effort.

Influence is a Two-Way Street

Remember, while you are working others they are also working you.  Another person might dress, act or speak a certain way to gain your approval, business or affection.  Or a different person might include or exclude you from his or her “club” by the way they dress, act or speak.

Consciously managing your image, attitude and message can help you adapt to people and situations in ways that will improve your performance, perceptions and outcomes.

Rich Drinon, M.A. is a leadership communication skills coach with a master’s degree in Leadership Communication from Gonzaga University and a graduate level certificate in Leadership Coaching from Avila University.  He has 30 years of experience coaching leaders and managers and expertise in the art and science of persuasion.    


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