Do you want short-term temporary results or long-term permanent results? Effective persuasion has lasting impact, but it requires dedicated study and long-term commitment on the part of the persuader.
The qualities listed at the base of the pyramid are the most easily and commonly used, but they achieve only temporary results. Such results are temporary because they do not address a person’s genuine wants or desires. Persuasion based on the qualities listed at the top of the pyramid is effective whether pressure is perceived or not. Such a method creates lasting results because it taps into and involves a person’s true interests. Determining whether you want short or long-term results dictates which area on the pyramid should be the focus of your efforts.
Imagine the CEO of a large corporation calling one of his vice presidents to a meeting. At the meeting, the vice president is informed that he must raise $20,000 in employee contributions for a foundation the company is going to sponsor. The CEO is not concerned with the means the vice president uses as long as they result in a check for $20,000. Raising such a sum requires getting $100 from each employee–a daunting endeavor! The vice president considers the various ways he could accomplish this task. It would be both easy and quick to approach the employees using control. He could use physical force or threats to obtain the money. This do-it-or-else mentality would get immediate results. The long-term impact, however, would likely involve rebellion, revenge, and resentment. What about coercion? Surely the employees would provide the requested donation if they were told doing otherwise would negatively affect their next job evaluation. Would this tactic get immediate results? Sure. Again, however, the long-term effects would be resentment, rebellion, and revenge.
The vice president decides control and/or coercion do not provide the best outcomes. Next he considers compliance. If he offered incentives, benefits, or rewards, it would be a win-win situation, right? Suppose each employee who donates $100 gets an extra two weeks of paid vacation. The problem is, once the incentive is gone, compliance will also disappear. He might get the $100 this time, but what about the next time he asks for a donation? This method is still only a temporary fix because the employees will be conditioned to always expect a reward for their compliance.
The vice president next considers cooperation. He could spend time with the employees explaining why this charity is so important and how it would be a great honor for them to participate. He could convince, encourage, or “sell” with logic, emotion, and information to donate to this worthy cause. Now, armed with the tools of effective persuasion, he’s onto an approach that will have lasting, positive results. As long as the employees feel he is telling the truth and acting in their best interest, they will be open to his proposal.
Finally, the vice president considers the top form of persuasion: commitment. If he has a great reputation and relationship with his employees, there will be mutual respect, honor, and trust. These conditions will enable the employees to comfortably make out their $100 checks. They know the vice president is a man of honor who would never ask them to do anything that would not be in their best interest. They can commit to him because they feel he is committed to them.
Commitment is the highest ideal of Maximum Influence because its impact is the most permanent and far-reaching. Your reputation as one possessing integrity, honor, trust, and respect will continuously inspire commitment from everyone you seek to persuade.