Persuasion lessons from a 3 year old

Shawn Casemore • No Comment
Posted: June 12, 2012

My 3 year old son practices a unique combination of “selective hearing” and “broken record syndrome” in order to tip the tables of persuasion in his favor.

My wife and I find ourselves often speaking in code or hushed tone in order to avoid his freakishly sensitive hearing, particularly when we are discussing baths, bedtime or food. However in contrast, if my son want’s something (i.e. snacks, toys) he repeats his desire for brief periods, seemingly to wear down my wife and I to the point we give in.

Interestingly, these techniques that are employed by most children hinge on the art of persuasion. More specifically, there are three lessons we can learn from children which would better serve us in pursuit of our own desired outcomes:

1. Decide what you want to hear. I don’t watch the news on television, however I will review the Globe and Mail or the Wall Street Journal. The difference? Relative to the former, views and opinions are projected at me; whereas in the later I can selectively read the information that is of greatest interest. We need to practice selective hearing, particularly when it relates to our desire to achieve or obtain something. If you are attempting to persuade, listen for that which is in support of your beliefs or position, disregard the rest.

2. Repeat; Repeat. I have found historically that the most challenging discussions require a focus on key points, not a rambling message. During difficult employee discussions, or in critical negotiations being clear on your three key points, and continuously discussing and deferring to them is the best means by which to drive home your point.

3. Persevere to persuade. Kids don’t give up; Adults often give up before they even try. Like bees are to honey, in the art of persuasion, determination and perseverance are the catalyst. If you are attempting to persuade, never give up. Where do you think the old saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” came from?

We learn the most successful tools to persuade at a young age, however for some reason we tend to let these go as we age in turn for seemingly less intrusive tactics. Maybe it’s time we take some persuasion lessons from children. We might find we spend less time dancing around our desires, and more time in their direct pursuit.

© Shawn Casemore 2012. All rights reserved.

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