Based on the informative readings and tips on writing persuasive messages, I applied various principles and techniques used in persuading higher-ups or executives to adopt to my way of thinking, enlist support, and gain approval for a course of action or advocacy. As J.P. Bowman articulated in a business communications online textbook chapter, “Writing Persuasive Messages, “Selling ideas by letter, memo, or email requires the same kind of structural planning as that used for selling a product or service.”
Bowman also mentioned some additional pointers, like beginning not just with a problem or issue of interest to the recipient of the message, but also a premise that the reader may readily accept. The reader’s disagreement with the subject matter and opening lines will most likely make him resist the rest of the message. After all, it will be very hard or even futile to convince a higher-up who does not think the matter being brought up is of some importance, especially to members of the organization.
The internal document made use of the letter format which, as J.P. Bowman said in “Writing Persuasive Messages,” signifies greater and importance than the traditional memo format. The opening of the internal correspondence goes straight to the point and presents a concession to a specific problem area that rests on a practical solution. Experts in influencing others aver that following the principle of consistency, whereby people align with their clear commitments, “most people, once they take a stand or go on record in favor of a position, prefer to stick to it” (Cialdini 76).
It will therefore take sound arguments, a good can cause, and the synergistic effect of other principles, like liking and authority, to win over someone to support an idea or project proposal. The Rocky Mountain Mutual Claims Manager Joseph Mirola, as a case in point, clearly stated his message and courses of action, and made his commitments active and public. “There’s strong empirical evidence to show that a choice made actively – one that’s spoken out loud or written down or otherwise made explicit – is considerably more likely to direct someone’s future conduct than the same choice left unspoken” (Cialdini 76).
In requesting for adjustments to a planned course of action and citing reasons to justify the suggested alternative, appeals were then made – to psychological pleasure (by appealing to the message recipient’s sense of fair play); to wealth (by playing up the need for good reputation) and to wealth & pleasure at the same time (by appealing to recipient’s sense of moral and legal responsibility).
By citing a research study succinctly stating that “people who exercise on a regular basis have healthier brains and better memory function that those who do not” (Colino 24), the correspondence also made use of another principle in harnessing the power of persuasion – scarcity. By highlighting a unique benefit and special information which is more persuasive than widely available data, the offer is better framed.
“The persuasive power of exclusivity can be harnessed by any manager who comes into possession of information that’s not broadly available and that supports an idea or initiative he or she would like the organization to adopt” (Cialdini 79). Even if the information may seem dull from the outset, special information or a unique benefit gives it a “special sheen,” as Robert Cialdini explained in his article, “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.”
The internal correspondence written for a higher-up likewise utilized the principle of liking. “Positive remarks about another person’s traits, attitude, or performance reliably generates liking in return, as well as willing compliance with the wishes of the person offering the praise” (Cialdini 74). By sincerely acknowledging the other party’s points and referring to him as “a business-savvy ranking executive who seems to be open to a world of possibilities,” I was seeking to establish rapport.
An appreciative comment expresses that “you value what he values.” In most cases, it can be effective in “relaxing negativity,” while giving an opening to convince the other party of your good intentions and competence (Cialdini 75). Following J.P. Bowman’s tips on “Writing Persuasive Messages,” I also made use of other techniques and appeals to persuade higher management, including blending outcomes and motivating.
I presented the facts to two sides of an issue in a clear and logical manner, in readable format, and motivated by persuading in degrees. In so doing, and also by citing the benefits to be gained by adopting the proposed idea, people stand to be successful in conveying their message and attaining the desired outcome.
Finally, I observed the principle of authority, which I deemed essential as well to persuasive business communications. It is advisable to assert or expose one’s expertise. The initial disclosure of personal information gives you a chance to establish expertise early in the game; so that when the discussion turns to the business at hand, what you have to say will be accorded the respect it deserves” (Cialdini 78). By making it known, verbally and through formal writing, that he is a strong advocate of fitness, Joseph Mirola showed that he is a credible authority on the subject which he is proposing.
Aside from firmly stating my position through official correspondence, I also took into consideration the rules of ethics, and did not resort to high-pressure tactics. I sought to cultivate a trust and cooperation, and by making it known that the fitness center, stands to benefit employees and employers alike, I utilized another persuasive tool. I relied on the idea that “any approach that works to everyone’s mutual benefit is good business” (Cialdini 79) and thus deserves support and acceptance.
Bowman, J.P. “Writing Persuasive Messages.” Accessed 25 April 2008
Chase, A. O. “Workplace Index Survey: Fitness, Productivity Linked.” 25 October 2007.
AllHeadlineNews. 25 April 2008 <http://allheadlinenews.com/articles/7008946777>.
Cialdini, R. B. “Harnessing the Science of Persuasion.” Harvard Business Review Oct. 2001. 72-
25 April 2008 <http://www.sflodn.org/downloads/HarvardBusinessReview.pdf>.
Colino, S. “Forget Something?” Weight Watchers Sept/Oct 2002: 22-24.
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