Recently, in a training exercise where I used the jungle as a metaphor, I saw someone with the right answers to the dilemma we proposed – and the life-experience to arrive at those right answer – yield to his team mates who had the wrong answers.

Later when I questioned him about it, he said that he felt it was better for team spirit to respect “their opinions” than it would have been to confront them with facts. As a result of his silence the team had assumed a lot of things they could not possibly know due to their lack of jungle experience and, ignoring his unavailable counsel, they guessed wrong. The consequence - virtually speaking - was the team died.

In the feedback portion of the exercise, I told them that they had completely ignored the correct answers - which were available in spite of that silent team-member - as Suzy and I played the role of “expert-guides” who could have helped them. We’d told them we would answer any question ...but we were barely asked a thing.

One participant later told us the lack of questions was because -
“We were trying to win by ourselves.”

As it was not a contest but a training exercise on leadership, they lost by not questioning us. The players “assumed” incorrectly when they could have challenged the unknown with questions.

The sole participant with any real experience was not convinced of the merits of his knowledge and thus he couldn’t convince his team. The failure inspired the following synthesis. When trying
to persuade others, help your chances by considering the following 3 things:

Audience: Is there a possibility that any portion of your audience will not be receptive to the idea and if so - what can you do anything about it? How can you open their mind or shape their experience of it?

: Look at the larger issues deciders are dealing with - such as budgets, past experiences with similar ideas, planning cycles, etc., so as to discover what kind of resistance you’ll be dealing with.

Resonance: Do you have key persons or deciders lined up who see how to benefit from your idea or who can actively promote it? Are there strong endorsers of inside the deciding group who can resonate to your idea after you are gone? How can you make sure it remains on the agenda when you stop promoting it.

Next, you can assure “buy-in” for your ideas by using these 6 tips:

  1. K.I.S.S.* -(Keep it simple stupid!) - Avoid any jargon your audience might be unfamiliar with. Make it easy for people to connect with you and buy into your ideas.
  2. Stress the key points when describing your idea and avoid unnecessary details but do display ownership and passion for it.
  3. Make a clear statement of the need for the idea while providing the necessary facts about the originally of the need. Describe the problems your idea will solve and explain why they needs to be solved so people will see their interest in it.
  4. Be aware of the pros, the cons and the alternatives to your suggested idea, avoid a one-sided presentation that overtly distorts an idea’s worth and makes it difficult for people to seriously consider it.
  5. Provide evidence that recommends your idea. Show why it will work and why it should be better than other ideas. Do not exaggerate but do list all advantages and benefits in “Win-Win-Win scenarios”.
  6. Separate questions from objections by anticipating them and developing answers for them. Quantify the value that your idea represents. Sell it worth.

Be persistent especially if you have faith in an idea. Be willing to put in every effort. Do not be antagonistic to those who resist your ideas but do continue to spell out their merit.