CASE STUDIES 

The power of persuasion 

This case study serves to illustrate the impact and support that one Skillogy PERFORM™ course can have at both an individual, as well as a national level.

Background

The person concerned in this case study, held a senior role, reporting to a government minister. For confidentiality reasons, the country has not been disclosed. This senior manager was aware of the Skillogy PERFORM™ courses and was undertaking a series of modules as part of a leadership development programme in his organisation.

In addition to these modules, he had taken it upon himself to explore a module that aligned with a particular problem that he was , at that time, unable to resolve.

The problem was of a political nature involving a disagreement between a regional government and the government department, of which this senior manager was an official.

The Problem

The regional government, who had a considerable influence in the national government, required that a specific project be agreed to assist in gaining the support of an important group of inhabitants and voters, living in the western part of the region.

The central government had tasked the senior manager with resolving the matter. Discussions had resulted in a deadlock. The project would have cost central government $60 million and could not justify either that type of project or the cost.

Course taken in this case study

Much of what you achieve depends on your ability to persuade other people. In many respects, persuasion is the highest form of communication. This course looks at the ability of persuasion and negotiation, in producing successful outcomes and moving towards a convergence of opinion and understanding. Negotiation depends on your attitudes in approach and devoting time to planning.

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Persuasion and Negotiation

The Skillogy PERFORM™ course for Persuasion and Negotiation comprises seven important elements, reflecting the tutorial content. These elements relate to:

  1. Persuasion: this is the ability to  induce belief and conviction in others by virtue of your argument and the trust and rapport you have nurtured.
  2. Negotiator’s outlook: this is the ability to approach a negotiation with the view of reaching a fair agreement and with enhanced working relationships.
  3. Planning: focus on objectives: this is the ability to define negotiation objectives, negotiation constraints and limits of decision authority.
  4. Planning: focus on your counterpart: this is the ability to assess your negotiation counterpart’s objectives, constraints and limits of authority as well as any personal factors that may impact on the negotiations.
  5. Planning: focus on strategy: this is the ability to think through and create a viable strategy for handling the negotiations before commencement.
  6. Negotiation process: this is the ability to understand the five stages of the negotiation process and to conduct the negotiations in a constructive and reasonable manner.
  7. Negotiations tactics: this is the ability to comprehend the seven most common issues relating to negotiation tactics and to use the various options available to you in securing the desired outcome.

Understanding the issues

Having carefully studied and considered each of the tutorials, the senior manager then revisited the implementation guidelines and action points for each of the key ability areas. For the purposes of illustration, here is the first set of actions, which provided him with a process for understanding the issue and the possible route to finding acceptable options:

ACTION 1: think of an event or situation ahead that will require you to persuade another person. This situation may be of any type but it must contain an element of negotiation within it. Within this situation, choose the main idea that you wish to make with maximum persuasive power. [in this case, the senior manager already had a situation to deal with]

ACTION 2: reflect upon the idea in relation to the other person’s needs.  Speculate about what needs the person may have and make a list of needs.

ACTION 3: take each need in turn and check to see if your idea is likely to strongly or weakly satisfy the need.

ACTION 4: focus solely on those needs that your idea will satisfy strongly.

ACTION 5: check to see if your idea is distinctive.  Is your idea the best way for the person to satisfy their needs?  Does your idea have some degree of uniqueness and/or originality?  Is your idea a fair approach to or way of satisfying the needs?

ACTION 6: reflect upon how you are going to first present this idea to the person.  Your opening sentence must be firmly located in the person’s needs and it must stimulate some degree of interest or potential excitement.  However, this opening sentence must not contain any of your strong points of argument or any conclusion.

ACTION 7: reflect upon how you are going to present the main substance of your idea. The best way to do this is to take each need and create a variety of positive points that will show how the need will be satisfied.  Begin with the weaker points and finish with the strong points.

The Power of Persuasion

These guidelines cover the aspects of persuasion.

The Implementation Guides and action points contained in the other tutorials form a pathway designed to assist the senior manager (in this case) in producing a viable and fair solution for both parties.

One of the ‘trigger point’ guidelines in this particular case lay in the planning process and the senior manager’s ability to assess your negotiation counterpart’s objectives, constraints and limits of authority as well as any personal factors that may impact on the negotiations.

In this regard, here is an extract of the key action points involved (there are some action points not included for the purposes of this case study):

ACTION 1: ask yourself the question: “What does my counterpart need to achieve?’ See if you can identify the most important needs.  Don’t forget that they, like you, may also have some needs that are desirable.

ACTION 2: now, provisionally convert these into negotiation objectives using the rules that objectives should be specific, measurable, capable of agreement, realistic and set in a time frame.

ACTION 3: make an initial risk assessment of your counterpart’s objectives.  Look at their probabilities, positive and negative outcomes, net outcome, downside risk and sensitivities. You will not be able to do this with any degree of certainty but you are starting to investigate the other person’s position and looking for indications of their objectives.  You can verify this later.

ACTION 4: see if you can forecast the constraints they will be negotiating within.  These constraints will he the lower and/or upper limits around each objective measurement.  In addition, make a preliminary assessment of the limits of decision authority that your partner may have.

ACTION 5: finally, see if you can assess your counterpart’s outlook on the negotiations. This will bring to the fore the most important values, beliefs and experiences. Attempt to answer the following questions:

  • will they be detached?
  • will they be objective?
  • do they value fairness?
  • do they value compromise?
  • will they openly disclose information?
  • do they value trust?
  • are they intelligent?
  • are they creative?
  • do they value problem solving?
  • will they have a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ approach?
  • if trust fairness and enhanced working relationships are not present in the negotiations, will they curtail the negotiations?
  • what factors would make them curtail the negotiations?
  • given their basic approach, use your imagination and assess the possible impact of their approach on the negotiations.

The Solution

This senior manager determined that the key issue for the regional government was votes – this was of overriding importance and the need to be able to demonstrate their recognition of their people and needs.

From the senior manager’s standpoint, he had to find a solution that would satisfy their needs as well as the Central Government budget constraints. The culture and history of this nation also needed to be taken into account, in political terms. These were the prime considerations.

So, as far as the votes were concerned?

A plan was put forward to his central government Head that an investment of $10 million should be offered but split into two projects. The first project would still benefit the people in the mountainous west of the region and secure their votes. Additionally,  the second project would benefit another group of voters closer to the regional capital and gain the support of their votes, too.

The Outcome

Understanding the important principles of the power of persuasion and negotiation are fundamental to good leadership. Even for this senior manager, the course  served as a ‘refresher’ and acted as a catalyst in focusing his thoughts.

Agreement was reached with the regional government officials after three days of negotiations. The regional government secured two beneficial projects and the support of the voters, whilst central government maintained important political relationships and saved some $50 million.

Well worth the investment of time in a course and a win-win outcome for all concerned.

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