We all have to make hundreds of decisions every day but how do you go about convincing yourself of something? Why do some people ‘know right away’ and others seem to need more information. Understanding your own ‘convincer mode’ can make a significant difference in the way you gather information and the results you get.

Giving the benefit of the doubt
A couple of years ago a good friend of mine was complaining that she was having no joy in finding a lasting personal relationship (let’s call her Paula).  I was curious about the way she was speaking about it so I interviewed her using the Language and Behavioural Profile (LAB Profile).  

Amongst the 14 patterns in the Profile one stood out.  She had an ‘Automatic’ convincer strategy.  This meant she was automatically convinced that the new man in her life was “The right guy for her”.  She said “I would give him the benefit of the doubt” and she got convinced by using a very small amount of information and imagining what the rest would be.  So even when there were some initial signs of things not being quite right – like calls not being returned or being dismissive of her feelings – she would ignore them.  After all, she was ‘convinced’ he was Mr. Right!  

One of the curious indicators of people with this particular pattern is that once convinced, they do not easily change their minds.   It was a classic case of ‘Perceptions being reality’.  This led Paula to some rather frustrating disappointments and feelings of being let down and betrayed.

Blinded by conviction
Let’s shift the context to work for a moment.  A client who was the Chief Executive of a large organisation demonstrated this ‘Automatic’ convincer pattern and it had led to some rather interesting recruitment appointments.  He would become automatically convinced at interview and decide which candidate was the right person for the job. 

The consequences of ignoring the initial signs that the new person was not up to the job like deadlines being missed, the lack of the interpersonal skills to engage fellow directors and blaming others for mistakes in their areas of responsibility were rather serious.  The other Directors began to complain and two of them threatened to resign.  The Chief Executive was very determined in trying to convince his colleagues that the new person was just settling in and was in fact the right person for the job.  Once again for him ‘Perception was reality’ he was blind to any evidence to the contrary.

The convincer patterns
According to a study of motivation in the workplace done by Rodger Bailey most people are more sceptical than the examples above and need to collect information in a particular way.  Being aware of a person’s individual ‘convincer strategy’ can be very useful when it comes to influencing them.

According to Bailey people are convinced by one – or a combination – of the following (the stats are from his research):
• Automatic (Only 8%): decide fast and will base decision on small amount of data projected into the future.  
• Number of examples (52%): need a specific number of examples to be convinced.  The norm is three times.
• Period of time (25%): need a specific period of time to pass to be convinced.
• Consistency (15%): need to be convinced each and every time – they are never quite convinced and always want more data!

Halo or Horns?
While an Automatic pattern can help with identifying new business opportunities that others miss until it’s too late, the consequences of having it at a senior level (or in the context of personal relationships!) can have serious consequences and it is worth checking for – especially with regard to recruitment.   The symptoms to look out for are the Halo and Horns effect; where someone is Mr. / Ms. ‘Perfect’ or Mr. / Ms. ‘Useless’ even though there are plenty of contra-indicators to show that this is not the case and when you challenge the situation you get argued with. 

I even had one client who had finally realised he had a rather poor performing member of staff who was clearly not competent to do what the job required (her best, if that’s what it was, was just not good enough).  He was complaining about her and I was genuinely shocked when he told me that she had left over a year ago and he had taken her back on three months later.  Somehow he had been convinced that she was a good worker and wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt!  His problems were becoming serious because she now had enough service to entitle her to full employment rights.  On top of that his last appraisal of her performance said she was doing fine in all areas!

Supporting him with implementing a proper procedure to manage her performance was an interesting experience.  To cut a long story short, he finally understood the automatic convincer pattern he was using i.e. being initially convinced she was good and never changing his mind – even after a year of pretty obvious contra indicators.  When he saw the reality of the situation and was able to see the truth, he was able to set clear objectives and after providing reasonable support used formal procedures to let her know where she stood by being objective and avoiding any unlawful bias.  She eventually got the hint and left before being dismissed.  

Awareness is key
When I explained the nature of the automatic convincer pattern to my friend Paula she was rather surprised that this could have been identified from the manner in which she answered one of the questions in the LAB Profile.  We discussed how she could use other means of deciding who was Mr. Right and that it was not in her best interests to make assumptions or give the benefit of the doubt in this context.   In many cases, raising awareness of the other convincer patterns and the dangers of an automatic pattern provides people with alternative choices about how they accumulate and process the information that will convince them.   

While I’m sure there are other factors that have played a part, Paula is now in a happy long-term relationship and when I recently spoke with her she said she is enjoying playing it month by month and not jumping to any conclusions . . . what a turnaround in convincer strategy! (from automatic to ‘period of time’ with some ‘consistency’).

The Chief Executive I mentioned has delegated the recruitment of all key positions to his colleagues and is now only one of three people feeding into the process.

Food for thought
What is the convincer strategy you or your clients use?  It can be useful to know, especially if your client has a ‘Consistent’ convincer pattern about your services.  You will need to prove to them that you are adding value at each intervention, and avoid any complacency on your part.

In the next blog I will be discussing the ‘consistent’ convincer Pattern and how having a “healthy scepticism” can be far from healthy for your business and your delegation skills. 
If you are interested in a short cut to discovering your convincer patterns or the patterns of your people you may be curious about our iWAM Profiling tool.  It is a simple online questionnaire and produces a ‘Motivational Fingerprint’ that includes a 16-page report about 48 motivation patterns and working preferences.  Once you have a person’s profile you gain the insights that will enable you to understand, predict and influence their behaviour.  For more information contact Gloria at [email protected].

Remember  . . . stay curious!

With best regards

David Klaasen is director and owner of the niche HR consultancy, Inspired Working Ltd.  (www.InspiredWorking.com)
If you have a communication or performance problem and would like some objective advice drop him a line at
[email protected].