How to Be Persuasive (and Save Gas)!

Want to work a four-day work week but don't know how to ask?

Lisa B. Marshall
6-minute read

WIIFM  - What's In It for Management!

Your plan needs to include at least three benefits that your manager cares about.  I'll repeat this because it is important to think about anytime you want to persuade someone. Any persuasive plan needs to include at least three benefits that are important to the person you are trying to persuade. This is the time to think back to the response from your initial casual inquiry...did he mention he was more productive at home? Then use that. Did he mention he could work longer hours? Then mention that. Did he mention it was easier to work with international customers because he could call at more convenient hours for them? Then go for that angle. The idea is to use your stealth research to help you formulate the benefits.

Be careful, because this where many people get off-track. It is critical that the benefits you mention are benefits to the person you are trying to persuade -- in this case your boss.  Maybe you'll say more work will get done because you'll use commute time to work, maybe you'll be more productive because you won't be constantly interrupted, or maybe it's important to your boss that your office or computer can be available for temps or new hires.

What you don't want to do is mention or concentrate on the benefits to YOU!  Like, hey, I'll save money on gasoline, or I can do my laundry and do my work at the same time, or I can watch the kids and work at the same time. The idea is to be listening to WIIFM --what's in it for management.

The second part of good persuasive plan is to prepare your rebuttal. What's that? You'll need to be prepared to address what you suspect will be the main objection. Let's say you think he'll be concerned about how others in the office react, you should be ready with a response. Maybe you'll say, "I agree, that's why I am proposing just a five-week trial period to see how things go."  Whatever you think the objections might be, you should have something planned to respond effectively.  Once you have your persuasive plan in place, the next step is to ask.

Asking for What You Want

Think about the best time to ask, is your boss a morning person? Also think about the best location. Usually when asking for something it is best to ask on neutral territory -- in a conference room,  at lunch, or maybe when you are trapped in a car with your boss on the way to visit a client. Since this is a big request, I strongly suggest asking only for a trial period first. It is less difficult to say no to something that is temporary than to a permanent change.

Assuming your boss agreed to the trial, the next step is to ensure that this decision will become permanent.  I suggest over-communicating during the trial period.  During this period you should send more e-mail, check-in with your colleagues and boss more often, make sure that everyone knows what you are doing and that you are available should they need you.  The goal in this phase is to manage and monitor perceptions and you need to ensure that you are not missing out on key interactions at work.  At the end of trial period if things are looking good, only then is it time to ask to make the decision permanent.


So, let's review.  When you want to persuade someone the first step is to plant the seed of the idea and get a pulse on the situation.  Next you'll want to do a little homework to fully understand what you are asking for and you'll also want to ensure perceptions of you are favorable. Then you should develop a persuasive plan by determining which are the most compelling benefits for that person. That is, you need to give this particular person good reasons to say, yes. Finally, you need to actually ask for what you want, even if it means asking for only a small part first.  Although this isn't a magic formula, these steps should help you make a compelling and successful argument!

This is, The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall.  Passionate about communication; your success is my business! (Now where did I see that Island Princess Barbie...)


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About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.