Advanced Business Writing
Influence and Persuasion

Reasoning Methods

Let's try another technique in matching words to personality.

An identifiable personality trait is how people reason. Most people reason in one of two ways: explore options or follow procedures.

Explore Options - Those who explore options are motivated to identify opportunities and generate possibilities. They bend the rules to do things differently. They are starters, not finishers. They enjoy creating procedures, but don't enjoy following them.

Indicators of this reasoning style are words and phrases like:

opportunity, choice, break the rules just for you, another way, a better way, unlimited possibilities, an alternative is, that's one way, here are some options, there has got to be a way

Follow Procedures - Those who follow procedures are motivated to follow set ways. Once they start a procedure, they need to finish it. They believe there is a right way to do things. They do not like bending the rules.

Indicators of this reasoning style are words and phrases like:

the right way, tried and true, reliable, how to use this, just follow the procedure, the procedure is, proven methodology, (speaking in procedures:) first .. then .. after which .. the last step

So how do we use these psychological realities to be more persuasive? Use the simple sequence of three steps:

    1. Listen to their words.
    2. Identify their personality.
    3. Speak their language.

Note: This technique doesn't work on everyone. About 20% of people reason in both directions equally. So you at least have an 80% solution.

Let's try an example. Imagine your company has a new product and it's time to finalize the marketing plan. You haven't met your Marketing Director yet, but on her LinkedIn page you find an article in which she wrote:

The standard course of action is to investigate alternatives. We try multiple ways to segment the market using routine methods for analyzing demographics and behaviors. The strategy we rely on is to choose among the best segmentation approaches.

When you need to influence your Marketing Director, will you choose wording that appeals to a person who explores options or who follows procedures? The correct answer is, Both. In each sentence from the article, you found wording that matches both ways of reasoning:

The standard course of action is to investigate alternatives. We try multiple ways to segment the market using routine methods for analyzing demographics and behaviors. The strategy we rely on is to choose among the best segmentation approaches.

Lesson: Reasoning Methods
Module: Influence and Persuasion
Course: Advanced Business Writing