Persuasive Communication: Using Transitional Openers
Every persuasion interaction has three phases. Phase One is trust building and information gathering. Phase Two is the transition, where you complete listening, and begin the shift to talking. And Phase Three is when you present your persuasion proposition.
But how do you know when you’re done with Phase One and ready for Phase Two? You don’t, so you have to guess.
Sometimes the end of Phase One is dictated by time constraints, either yours or the person you seek to persuade. Sometimes, the end of this phase is a function of location, when you’re in an elevator and your persuadee arrives at his or her floor and steps off, or you’re in a busy corridor and you see people moving in your direction.
And sometimes, in our best-case scenario, you arrive at the end of Phase One when you have learned enough about your persuadee to successfully make your presentation.
Transition: A Pivotal Moment
The transition phase is a pivotal moment on which everything that follows depends. Though it is the shortest phase of persuasion, it is deserving of your recognition and attention.
The purpose of a transitional phase is to summarize what you’ve learned, and prepare the way for what you are about to say. Your summary gives you an opportunity to accomplish three objectives.
- It gives you a way of assuring your pursuadee that you have listened and understood.
- It gives you a chance to highlight information that can increase acceptance of what you have to say.
- The transition gives you a chance to ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them‘, before you actually tell them.
A transition builds a bridge between what you’ve learned and what you want to say. That’s why the first part of a transition must establish a definite connection to what you’ve heard. Phrases like “Because of what you told me“, and “In light of what we’ve just discussed“, and “Based on what you’ve said“, are easy beginnings for planting the pylons. Does this mean that what you have to say must actually be ‘because of,’ or ‘in light of,’ or ‘based on’ ? Not really. There can be an element of junk o’logic involved if necessary. The key thing is that your persuadee isn’t required to jump ahead, but instead to follow your in your path across that bridge. So the beginning of that path must at least sound like it has its basis in where they stand, not where you stand.
Next you tie the rope to the pylons, and place some boards beneath your feet to begin crossing over. This is the connective material of transitional openers, and there are a few ways to go about it.
And that will be our next persuasion post.
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.