The skill of being a confident Persuader sits at the top right corner of the Skills Studio pedagogical model.
That position is by design because, in a way, the other eight skills contribute to the goal of being a compelling persuader.
The 'Mark Twain Rule' to become exceptionally persuasive has stood the test of time and is a well proven model. Kudos to the late Steve Jobs for being a brilliant exponent of the 'Mark Twain Rule'.
Let me get to the point.
This is How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the 'Mark Twain Rule' to Become Exceptionally Persuasive
This is a story about three related things:
- emotional intelligence,
- legendary American author Mark Twain,
- and the art of getting to the point.
Let me follow my advice by giving you the bottom line up front.
There are a few common ways that otherwise intelligent people undermine their own goals and betray a lack of emotional intelligence when they want to convince others to help them achieve something.
First, they fail to articulate their exact objectives.
Second, they get so focused on what they want to say that they neglect to consider how their message will land on other people's ears.
Thirdly, they muddle directions and meander as they talk so that it winds up being unclear precisely what they hope other people will do.
That approach is a recipe for confusion, even when everyone has the best of intentions. So, emotionally intelligent people learn to embrace a deceptively simple habit that helps them overcome all three pitfalls.
That habit is brevity.
Let's use Twain's contribution to illustrate. It comes from one of his most famous quotes outside of his literature from a letter he reportedly wrote to a friend more than 150 years ago.
The popular version of the quote: "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
Some purists may quibble about whether he said it exactly like this or if he was paraphrasing something that Blaise Pascal had written earlier, in French.
Regardless, Twain knew it then; I'm telling you now: Coming up with a good message takes time, but genuinely crafting it -- editing it, to put it differently, and ensuring it's efficiently tied to your ultimate desired outcomes -- can take a heck of a lot more time.
It's true for books and letters and articles, and it's true when it comes to strategically communicating in an emotionally intelligent manner.
Fast example: Let's say that you're considering a fantastic opportunity for your business, but you also face challenges.
Maybe you have a once-in-a-blue-moon chance to take on a sizable job for a dream client. At the same time, you're facing staffing shortages and a pandemic, and you'd need everyone's best efforts to have any shot at making it work.
You're very excited, and you want to get your team excited.
Even the above-average leader might gather the team and explain why it's such an excellent opportunity for the company and why this is the time that everyone needs to pitch in together and rise to the occasion.
The emotionally intelligent leader, however, frames everything from the point of view of their team:
- what the opportunity means for everyone,
- what it means for individual contributors, and
- what's needed from each person to reach the goal
The hard part is that it takes more time to think about all of these angles and craft the right message. You might even need to segment things better so that you don't try to communicate everything to everyone at once.
On top of all of that, you have the added challenge of being brief. But, when done right, you also get the benefit of being far more likely to achieve your ultimate goals.
This is part of what emotional intelligence is all about: becoming aware of your emotions and other people's emotions and then leveraging them to make it more likely to achieve your ultimate goals.
There's a place in leadership and life for long-windedness. Sometimes, you have to write down everything you know, even discover what you think honestly.
Still, sometimes silence speaks volumes. Taking time to weed out the many things you might want to say (because you're thinking emotionally) to make the ones you truly need to say more memorable makes the difference between confusion and clarity.
So, follow the Mark Twain Rule to become exceptionally persuasive. Chart the emotionally intelligent route, and take the time to write the shorter letter.
You'll find the extra effort pays off as you remove the impediment of misunderstanding from your most important conversations.