Persuasion Skills – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Persuasion skills for the administrative assistant.

It was Desmond Tutu who stated, “Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.” There are a lot of people in the workplace who don’t seem to operate by that wise statement. Executive assistants and administrative assistants who are savvy and mature professionals know that positive persuasion skills are not optional – they are useful tools to grease the wheels of business toward successful completion of projects, meetings, budgets, events, and training.

How familiar are you with persuasion skills? Do you seek to grow yours as an administrator? Does the concept make your annual performance objectives? If it isn’t there, it needs to be! Today’s support staff work harder and do more than ever before. We need to be able to work with, and for, just about everybody in order to achieve world class performance.

Here are the bad and the ugly methods of persuasion:

  1. Anger Channel – raising the volume of your voice (like a radio) won’t win you any points. 
  2. Mack Truck – talking over others or prefacing your own opinion with, “What you really need to do is …” doesn’t win people over to your way of thinking.
  3. Big Bad Bully – seriously, is winning at the expense of relationship ever an effective administrative tool?
  4. Cliques, Chip on the Shoulder – persuasion by creating a circle involving one or two members of the team while treating the rest of the team as social pariahs (outcast, rejected) is a lose/lose/lose in the end. 
  5. Silo Stranger – keeping to yourself and not behaving like a team member won’t help you when you need to persuade. 
  6. Choosing the Wrong Side – it can be very tempting to align with the bad and powerful while they reign, but remember to choose who you align with carefully and with an eye to the future. That person may move on and you may remain – people won’t easily forget you went over to the dark side. 

So what are ways to build your persuasion skills that are good?

  1.  Help – be a helper. When you are known as someone who will change toner cartridges, fill the copier with paper and remember to make a fresh pot of coffee when you take the last cup, you get the reputation for excellence. Being known for overall excellence will build your reputation – and thereby increase your believability quotient. 
  2. Strategic Thinking – Do you know how to anticipate and how to prepare for potential pitfalls before they occur? 
  3. Straight, Direct Talker – Can you speak directly to an issue with clarity and understanding? It’s difficult to persuade if others don’t know what you are saying or where you are going. 
  4. Solutions – Do you think things through and retain information, research, websites, company information so you are seen as a reference of excellence? This reputation for solutions will pave the way for others to believe your solutions and buy into them.
  5. Reliability – Are you known as someone who says what they’ll do and then does what they say? 
  6. Accuracy – Providing incorrect or incomplete answers will slay your persuasion skills “by suicide” not by murder. Meaning, you have self-sabotaged your own believability quotient. 

A lot of persuasion skills are wrapped in and around your reputation, your behavior, and your communication skills. Your believability quotient is their sum total; and as you grow your persuasion skills you will gain respect and admiration from leaders and colleagues.

So, grow your persuasion skills by attaining excellence as one who seeks solutions, is reliable and accurate, who helps even when no one appears to be watching (someone is ALWAYS watching!), and practices strategic thinking, demonstrated by clear, direct communication.

Your ability to influence is right around you. Don’t squander those precious opportunities!


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