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Persuasion Mastery

An interview on persuasion mastery with Jonathan Altfeld

This is an interview in which Andy Szekely is asking master persuader Jonathan Altfeld a set of targeted questions that reveal the essentials of the persuasion process.


AS (AS training & consulting)
There are many areas and definitions of the persuasion process. People call it influence, convincing, manipulating, selling... So what is persuasion really?

JA (Jonathan Altfeld)
Persuasion is your ability to convince others of your point of view, through explanation, stories, discussion, requests, or other forms of communication. Persuasion can also be any of the things you mentioned.

In other words, selling is one form of persuading. Getting a date is another form of persuading. Negotiating anything effectively is another form of persuading.

All of us use persuasion. Some people are better at it than others. I believe our success in life is _directly_ related to our level of persuasive ability.

Some people are natural persuaders, some people take training in persuading. I provide this service to those who want to become more natural at persuading other people.


Is persuasion and selling the same thing?

Certainly it can be, but I don't think these are automatically the same.

I have sold things without having had to persuade anyone of anything (in other words, some people came to me ready to buy something and I didn't have to do any work at all to close the sale).

By contrast, I have also persuaded people to choose a range of things without having sold anything to them at the time. For example, I persuaded someone to join me for lunch just the other day. And there have certainly been times when I was selling a product to a customer, where I did need to persuade them of the wisdom of the choice they were about to make.


Can someone etichaly be persuading somebody else?

Persuasion skills, whether natural or trained, are just tools. Just techniques. The ethics of a person are separate from the tools. I say this because I know many people who act very ethically when they persuade other people. And I know many people who act without ethics when they persuade.

Curiously, I find that most people who are trained to be more persuasive, usually act with more ethical choices. Often because those of us who train persuasion skills build "ethics" and "ecology" of our choices, into our training process.

So, yes, people can ethically persuade, and people can unethically persuade. The ethics are in the people, not the tools, and it's usually people who haven't thought through the results of their behavior who are unethical. 


Can you offer us an example of ethically influencing someone's course 
of actions?

Certainly, I can give you several examples.

(1) Persuading a person to hire you, if you know you're a great candidate for the job.

(2) Persuading a customer prospect to buy your product, after you've discovered that he will be able to benefit greatly from owning it.

(3) Persuading a friend to discard limiting beliefs, empower themselves, and take action in a way that will build a better life for themselves.

(4) Persuading that amazing man/woman you've wanted to get to know...
that you're a fascinating person who will reflect what's best in them.


What makes a master persuader?

Globally renowned author and trainer of Sales skills Zig Ziglar once said, "your best 'weapon of influence' is your integrity." I believe that's true thoroughly and completely. If you come from a place of integrity, and always take into account other people's wants and needs, everything you do will have balance to it.

When you listen to other people's wants and needs, and observe their behavior, you can tune your communication skills to best bridge other people's wants and needs... to your products, services, or ideas. You'll be inviting other people into viewing the world more the way you look at it.

Then often, when people make the choices you've persuaded them to make, those choices come from a place of desire and balance, which essentially means, they'll be glad they're making those choices, and you've persuaded them well.

Last point: A Master Persuader is also someone who can easily persuade him-/herself to walk away from persuading someone -- when the outcome doesn't fit the prospect's wants and needs. Someone who recognizes a bad opportunity quickly -- and chooses to preserve the relationship -- rather than pushes their agenda and desired transaction.



Charisma is something you either have it or you don't?

Charisma, or Charm, is something most people either have, or they don't. However, Charisma, like persuasion, can also be behaviorally trained. Which means the rest of us who weren't naturals when we were born, don't have to live with not being charismatic!!!

Charisma begins inside our minds.

We simply ask, "What about other people is charismatic to us?" And then we begin to duplicate those beliefs, values, and behaviors, in ourselves. Then, rather rapidly, we become more charismatic. That may sound simplistic, but it works!



What are the most important advantages of learning persuasion skills?

As I've said above, I believe our success in life is _directly_ related to our level of persuasive ability. So in many ways, learning persuasion skills leads to the removal of personal limitations.

The sky is the limit. Or more to the point, there are no limits.

Human beings place artificial limitations on their own behavior. We do this through limiting beliefs, and through over-generalizations. Often people do this by expecting that there are points of diminishing returns on efforts to improve our situations in life.

"It would be too hard to get yet another promotion."
"She's good enough for me. I don't think I could ever find a relationship that meets all of my needs..."

"It would take too much work to sell to that fellow."
"If you wanted to lose those last 10 pounds, you would have to exercise twice as hard."

These kinds of personal restrictions are often based on people poorly persuading each other (or themselves) of arbitrary human restrictions/limitations. Persuasion is one of those skills that helps us fast-track to a desired result. Finally, combining persuasion skills with the ability to create and build "empowering beliefs" in other people's minds (and our own) is a powerful weapon to use in destroying human hesitation. 


What do you have to think/believe in order to "seduce" the other party?

It's important to believe that....

What you offer has immense value. How you offer something to other people is magnetic, fascinating. Other people desire listening to you. People want and need a sense of excitement, and other great feelings.

If you learn that someone is a good prospect for your ideas... then it's not only a good option to influence people... it's actually your
*responsibility* to share your ideas in a compelling way. It's actually morally important to influence people to take constructive action in the world. 


Is persuasion easy or difficult to learn?

It is either easy or difficult, depending on how you make it.
If you can begin now to find it increasingly fascinating... to learn how people think, how they process information... then it can be both fun and powerfully educational to learn how to persuade people more effectively. Also, finding a dynamic trainer who can make the process pragmatic rather than theoretical makes an enormous amount of difference.

Find the right trainer, learn these skills in a pragmatic way, find every person to be a fascinating creature... and it's easy!

 Try to learn it only theoretically from books, try to fit all of your old sales training into a new paradigm of thought... and it's incredibly difficult! Any pre-existing methodology may be based on old thinking patterns and not individually tuned to the psychology of self or others. 


If you had only 3 words to define the persuasion process, what would 
those words be?

Please pardon my adjustment... because I'd need more than 3 words! 

I'd need 3 phrases:
Gain rapport, Gather better information... & customize communication!




Andy Szekely