It’s always a delight to find a book that can be useful to so many people regardless of the type of work they do. James Borg’s Persuasion, the art of influencing people is one such book and well worth reading. As Borg says, “The book will show you how to put yourself and your thoughts across convincingly and how to ‘read’ other people more effectively; and in so doing allow you to be more persuasive and for people to trust and feel favourably disposed towards you.” What’s not to love?
Borg presents his theory in a very approachable manner -he’s got a good sense of humour- and his theory and approach are similar to the principles developed by our colleagues at the Harvard Negotiation Project. If you’ve attended any of Common Outlook’s workshops (or even if you haven’t), this book is a terrific companion to what you’ve learned.
The book is filled with tips you can begin to use right away. In the chapter on listening, Borg provides his reasoning on why listening is such an important skill: “You often hear of somebody talking too much. Nobody could be accused of listening too much (‘Gosh,- I just couldn’t stop that person listening- made me miss my train…’).” He then goes on to list do’s and don’t's which, if put into practice, will make you a much better listener.
The chapter dealing with telephone skills is worth the price of the book. Borg feels, and I agree, we tend to over use e-mail, using it when really we should be making a phone call, especially at the beginning of a relationship. Borg outlines ways to introduce yourself, secure appointments, deal with the timing of calls. Most importantly, he explains how important it is to be expressive over the phone and ways to do it.
Borg identifies eight types of difficult behaviour ranging from the self-important to the rigid. You’re sure to recognize people you’ve worked with in each of the categories. For example, if your team includes someone who always seems to be full of gloom and doom, you’re dealing with “A Dampener”.
“We’re thinking of organizing a fun run for April.” “No, it rains in April.”
He also discusses some common personality types (introvert/extrovert). While always being respectful of the other person, Borg outlines how you can change your behaviour and communication style to best match the style of the other person.
Each chapter provides sufficient background theory to give you confidence the suggestions will work. Borg provides lots of examples and guides on “how to” implement the suggested changes. The book is well organized and easy to read but don’t underestimate the power of the message. Highly recommended reading.
This book review was written by Helen Latimer