By Goke Ilesanmi
There is need to break the barrier of primitive persuasion and embrace application of effective persuasion if we must move forward as a nation, as individuals, organisations, etc. This is because persuasion is key to general harmony. Persuasion is simply about convincing other people. It is commendable that after the unimpressive performance at the just-concluded general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) took stock of its electoral fortunes and admitted that, among other things, the intensity of its hate campaigns (primitive persuasion) accounted for its misfortune at the poll. The fact remains that apart from PDP, other political parties and politicians are also guilty of hate campaigns one way or another.
One major reason
One major reason for the prevalence of this communication barbarity in Nigeria is ignorance about persuasive communication and effective public speaking skills. That is why most of our politicians abandon articulation or sale of their manifestoes to the electorate and focus on frivolities like character assassination of other contestants. They continue in this crossfire of meaningless campaigns because there is demand for such by the electorate, probably due to ignorance and poverty which prevent them from demanding issue-based campaigns. When I was invited as a guest by the Lagos Television (LTV 8) on Monday, March 23, 2015, five days to the Presidential election, I predicted that the hate campaigns especially embarked upon by the PDP instead of effective persuasion might jeopardise its electoral chances as it was using its resources to indirectly advertise Buhari.
Beyond politics, the skills of effective persuasion are not applied in almost all areas of our national life. So when it comes to competition for instance, we resort to de-marketing of competitors instead of applying effective persuasion to achieve positive results. At times, organisations even threaten customers instead of persuading them as it is the case with our electricity companies that bring outrageous bills and threaten you with disconnection. In the workplace for example, employers and managers resort to micromanagement and threat against employees instead of achieving corporate target through persuasion and motivation. Such employers and managers need to read current books like “The Art of Managing People” by Dr. Phillip Hunsaker and Dr. Anthony Alessandra. They can even learn from charismatic corporate leaders like Architect Taofik Popoola, Managing Partner, Artec Practice, formerly Quaditect Consultants.
Also most pupils/students cannot perform well because they have teachers who believe in punishment instead of using high expectations to elicit performance in their pupils/students through persuasion and motivation. One of the teachers I will continue to adore in my life is Mrs Shofolahan, the teacher that taught me in Primary Two in those days at St. Joseph Primary School, Okela, Ikare Akoko, Ondo State. Through her effective persuasion and motivation, my class became the best and the result of the last person in my class was always as good as that of the fourth or fifth position in other classes. In fact the school authorities had to promote her with us to Primary Three because they knew it would be difficult for any other teacher to sustain the momentum of our performance.
Strategies, credibility and favour
Establishing your credibility is the first of the strategies you can employ to achieve effective persuasion. As a politician for instance, you can establish your credibility through your transparency and by showing the electorate that you understand their specific needs and challenges. The same thing applies in the workplace for employers.
Another thing is to do for others before asking anything from them. According to the reciprocity principle, people feel obligated to give back when a favour has been done for them beforehand. That is why philanthropists like Rochas Okorocha, the late MKO Abiola, etc., were able to win elections with relative ease.
Concentrating on issues important to your audience constitutes another strategy of effective persuasion. But politicians, marketers, employers, managers, etc., miss this point in Nigeria and rather focus on what interests themselves.
Never expect an immediate positive response
Building your case slowly and steadily will improve your chances of success in terms of persuasion. If you get turned down as a politician or marketer for instance, accept the decision gracefully. There is always another time for you.
To achieve competence in persuasion, politicians, etc., need to undergo training in public speaking and persuasive communication. As a manager, employer, etc., you also need to read current books on how to manage people to boost your persuasive and motivational skills.
PS: For those making inquiries about our Public Speaking, Business Presentation and Professional Writing Skills programme, please visit the website indicated on this page for details.
GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is an International Platinum Columnist, Certified Public Speaker/MC, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker and Career Management Coach. He is also a Book Reviewer, Biographer and Editorial Consultant.
Tel: 08055068773; 08187499425