Book Excerpts

The Persuasion Sequence is effective regardless of the scale of the interaction. Let’s start with a minor scenario that some of us would struggle with: making initial contact with a stranger at the movie theater and assertively asking them to turn off their phone.

1. Ask don’t tell

“Now that the movie has started, could you please stop texting?”

You’re requesting, not bossing them around.

This might be enough to get them to comply. If not, let’s move on to Step 2.

2. Explain why / set context

“The light from the phone is distracting those of us around you, so could you please put your phone away?”

Explain the effect that their behavior is having on the situation. By this point most people will comply. If not, it’s time to remember it’s Showtime: breathe, stack your blocks, and gain control of your response so you don’t get sucked into acting badly. Once you’ve gained your emotional equilibrium, move on to Step 3.

3. Give options, not threats

“I know you paid good money to see this, and I want you to see the show.” (positive option) “I don’t want to get a manager involved because they’d make you leave and you’d be out cold. (negative option) “So why not sit back and enjoy?”

You’ve politely informed them of your intention to notify the management.

You’ve also presented them with options by reminding them of the good money they paid to be here. And you’ve painted a pretty lousy picture of what the rest of their night would be like: out cold.

You don’t have to follow a pattern–you might just want to point out the positive options they have before them. If you do give them negative options, be sure to follow up with a positive note at the end. It helps accentuate the positive, and it makes the negative option sound less like a threat.