Electronic Design

Good Work Goes A Long Way, But Persuasivesness Also Helps

Say there are two groups, A and B. To be in group A, you must meet four requirements. The first is that you have to be independently wealthy. You also have to be satisfied working only on projects that you can pay for by yourself. You can't care whether or not anyone else uses your ideas or work. Lastly, you must not be interested in discussing your work with anyone else.

So who's in group B? The answer is everyone else. Like group A, members of group B have needs and objectives. To make the cut, you must persuade an employer to hire you, promote you, and pay you increasing amounts of money. Or, he or she won't. You also have to help persuade customers to pay for your projects by buying products or funding your contracts, even if you never meet them. If your boss thinks your work is not persuasive, he'll fire you.

Next, you must persuade your boss, colleagues, and customers to use your ideas and your work even after they've paid you to generate them. Or, they won't. You also must persuade colleagues to pay attention to your work, to like it, and to help you. Or, they'll ignore you.

Notice that I use the word persuade a lot. Leadership is persuasiveness. Before plunging into the technology of persuasion, let me confirm what you probably already believe: that the most persuasive thing you can do is lots of good work. Most professors, bosses, customers, and colleagues have at least some appreciation of work.

Unfortunately, lots of good work is not enough. People also are motivated by their self-esteem, what they judge to be their self-interest, and by a variety of doctrines in which they believe. Say you present a proposed design or plan or invention to Mr. X that makes him feel proud, makes him judge that it will do him good, and corresponds to his religion, politics, prejudices, and ethics. There's a good chance that Mr. X will help you along your four objectives. Easy to say. How to do?

Work on his self-esteem. Let him know that he is a person who will appreciate the scheme without it being spoon-fed, and that it's partly based on ideas he has expressed. Butter him up, but be ever so respectful. Ask for his opinions and contributions and advice. This is called flattery. You will hate it. I hate it. Do it.

Show how, directly or indirectly, it will advance his four motives. If his judgement is critical, modify your proposal to advance his motives. A poorer accepted proposal is better than a better rejected proposal. Design for your market.

Take his prejudices into account. Excuse me, his doctrines. Your customer's prejudices are your top specification. The zero'th law of psychology is that people act far more from their feelings than from their logic.

How do you know in advance? Listen a lot. Watch his body language. Train your sensitivity to other people's feelings. Encourage others to talk about Mr. X. Don't gossip, just listen.

Now let's look at how you behave and how you can become more effective. Look at the real reasons you said and did what you said and did. If you learn to understand yourself, you can be far more effective than if you are putting on a show for yourself.

Don't boast or put others down. Affect opinions within the conventional tolerance band and don't hang onto the first amendment. Study everything from flattery to negotiation. Lastly, confine your visible non-conformance to the superior quality and quantity of your work. Put out your very best.

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