Practical guide on the art of persuasion


“THIS book should be on every individual’s bookshelf,” so says Sir John Harvey-Jones. 

As these words were prominently displayed on the cover of Persuasion – the art of influencing people, I was thus persuaded to read the book. 

After all, Sir John was regarded somewhat in awe back in the early 1990s as he had led ICI from a £200 million-losing company into a £1 billion-profit one in just 30 months.  

Today, if Sir John who is still Britain’s best-known and admired businessman could be persuaded to write those few but persuasive words for this book, then author James Borg apparently knows his stuff. 

As Borg has put it, “Every day at work – and of course, in your personal life – you come into contact with people who need to understand your point of view, either for you to help them or for them to help you.  

Equally, you need to understand their point of view. We need to persuade others to our way of thinking and ‘read’ how they are thinking.” 

And so Borg came out with this step-by-step practical guide to developing and using one’s natural intuitive skills  

The book is the result of Borg’s experiences over several years spent in advertising, sales, marketing, journalism, work psychology and coaching, all of which aim to show readers how to put themselves and their thoughts across convincingly and to “read” other people more effectively so that such information can be used to persuade others to feel favourably disposed towards them. 

Presented in 10 chapters, Chapter 1 touches on how empathy and sincerity works for the readers, with Chapter 2 urging the readers to be good listeners, and Chapter 3 shows the readers how to keep attention on where he or she wants it. Pretty mundane no doubt, but quite essential towards building up one’s communication skills. 

Chapter 4 is more interesting as it discusses one’s body language and how to read signals from others as well as send out the right ones to others. Readers are taught some simple tips in Chapter 5 on how to improve their memory since good recall of the person that one is dealing with could give a person the most impact. 

While Chapter 6 is subjective as it attempts to show that success depends on saying the right thing at the right time, Chapter 7 tends to be quite run-of-the-mill on the subject of telephone telepathy, which requires a person to use the telephone to his or her best advantage through reading situations better, since he or she cannot see the person on the other line. 

While Chapter 8 could be interesting since it touches on understanding the psychology involved in negotiating for mutual benefit, be it at work or in our personal lives, it is unfortunately too short. 

Chapter 9 – The personality spectrum – is indeed interesting and worth reading since it teaches the readers how to identify certain “types”, e.g. introverts vs extroverts, thinkers vs feelers, etc, and so deal successfully with them.  

While Borg’s observations do apply to some extent, I would nonetheless still caution the readers to take his words with a pinch of salt. Personal experience has taught me not to be overly presumptuous when dealing with people. 

The final chapter – Persuasive power in action – offers some scenarios to spruce up the readers’ communication skills, first through showing the “wrong” way, and then offering the “right” one.  

Again, I have to make this cynical comment. While the words look good and so clear on the pages of this book, the reality when one finds himself or herself having to respond in an actual situation is something else. 

Overall, although I find myself persuaded into thinking this book to be an interesting read, my main grouse remains in that I find the offered examples or scenarios to lack depth and somewhat pedantic.  

 

l Khoo Kheng-Hor welcomes feedback. He can be reached at http://www.webpoint.com.sg/suntzu or suntzu333@yahoo.com 

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