Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Moments of Power: How to Identify and Use Them
During our interactions with others we often unconsciously find ourselves in the so-called “moments of power,” times where we can engage our partner with a highly persuasive lever for the future, even if, at that very moment we have no interest in persuading the person to do anything.
Recognizing and using these moments of power is of vital importance and has become a standard practice of every good persuader. On the other hand, letting these special moments pass without any benefit, as most people do, deprives us of a favorable opportunity to exercise our powers of persuasion, forgoing the chance to move others in our direction in an ethical way that’s also in their best interest.
So, what are these “moments of power” and how do we recognize them? And above all, what should we do when we find ourselves in the middle of them? The answer to these questions is surprisingly simple and can be illustrated with a short example:
Dr. Smith, manager at a large company, receives a call from a colleague who asks with a worried tone if Dr. Smith can lend a hand because he has a meeting with a key customer of the company the next morning and producing sales report is of the highest priority for the colleague. He also needs to produce some other documents and has no time to do this by himself before the meeting.
The colleague is not aware of it but Dr. Smith has recently created a report very similar to the one in question and, with only a few changes, the same document can very well be used for next day’s meeting.
The next day, the two men meet at the office and the colleague first thanks Dr. Smith profusely, praising his responsiveness and the timing of his action, telling him that he pretty much “saved his life.” How should Dr. Smith respond to this praise? Being a person of integrity and honesty he simply says, “Well, you don’t even have to thank me, it was a small thing, I had already prepared a similar study and didn’t do anything else but send it with a few changes. I would have done it for anyone!”
Here, Dr. Smith has just found himself in one of the famous moments of power and has just blatantly wasted it! Sound familiar? Maybe it’s happened to you recently.
Now let's see what the good doctor should have done instead. We can identify three fundamental points:
1) Do not belittle the magnitude of the action. This doesn’t mean you have to brag about what you have done, saying that the report cost us hours and hours of work, because this wouldn’t be ethical! Just say something like, “I tried to create for you the most accurate and precise report possible. I put all my efforts in it and I am glad you appreciate it.” The detail that the report has already created is beside the point when it comes to persuasion and may be omitted.
2) Highlight the fact that the action was done specifically because the request came from that person. Instead of saying, “I’d do it for anyone,” say, “I know how important it was for you and I know how hard you work, so if I could give you a hand, I did it very willingly.” In other words, we are customizing our action.
3) Laying the foundations to be reciprocated. Proper use of a moment of power gives us a future persuasive lever to use with that person. Another way to look at it is it gives us a “credit” with the other person and the principle of reciprocity alerts us to the fact that the other person will feel obligated to reciprocate in some way. To emphasize and establish this point you just say a simple but powerful phrase, “I know you would have done the same for me if the roles were reversed.”
Think of how many times somebody thanks you for a favor and how, you can now quickly and easily apply the three points described above. Begin to practice this technique now so you don’t miss any more “moments of power.”