Persuasive Communication: Asking for Permission
In my last post on the topic of transitional openers, I discussed the Pivotal Moment of Transition. Today, let’s talk about another technique to pack in your positive persuasion toolbox.
Ask for Permission
“…May I tell you about a way that we can (short summary of the desired outcome)?” If you choose to ask for permission, make sure that you wait to receive it before proceeding. Because this is a question, it requires a response, thus involving your persuadee.
Asking for permission tells people that they are involved in what they are about to hear because you value, recognize and appreciate them. Once someone gives you permission, his or her consent becomes the green light for you to present your persuasion proposition. Asking permission works, because anything you say with permission is bound to find a more receptive audience than anything you say without it.
This works well with almost everyone. Specifically, it works well with people who have a communication need for approval and appreciation. You can vary the degree of directness and understate it with care and consideration, or say it with enthusiasm, depending on what you’ve learned about your persuadee. Or, ask for it with care and enthusiasm. But ask for it.
A Reason to Say Yes
Permission also gives your persuadee something to say yes to, and yes it’s almost always a good beginning to persuasion. In fact, asking permission is so powerful that you can continue to ask permission throughout Phase Three/Presentation (of your persuasion proposition).
“May I describe the benefits of my proposal?”
“May I offer you a demonstration?”
“May I give you a sample?”
Permission is Powerful
Permission is a powerful persuader, because it comes from your persuadee, and means you have their consent to hear what you have to say.
Here’s a classic use of asking for permission, with a funny response. Someone says to you “May I ask you a question?” And you reply, “You just did.” Then they say, “May ask you another question right after this one?” I don’t know why, but that always makes me laugh!
But really, if you think it through, asking for permission to ask a question before asking the question is a wonderful way of getting someone to really think about their answer when your question comes their way. It’s a heads-up that a response is desired, and it allows your persuadee to mentally get in position to answer what ever you are about to ask. It gets attention, and holds it.
Go ahead. Practice asking for permission as a transitional opener. Let me know how it impacts your persuasion success.
Use your influence. Be persuasive. Change your mind, change your life, and change your world.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.