Persuasive Communication and Impression Management

Subject: Business Communication
Pages: 7
Words: 1942
Reading time:
8 min

Almost every form of communication in life has an aspect of persuasion, which is a crucial tool in business. Cialdini (2001) defines persuasion as the ability or a natural gift to sway people, capture an audience, and convert opposition into unity. The individual endowed with this power communicates with the primary objective of making the hearers or listeners take the intended direction. Consequently, the art of persuasive communication is critical for any effective leader who wishes to initiate change in the organization and make the business more prosperous. Every business communication has some form of persuasion as they are geared towards convincing potential clients to act and think the way the business wants them to do. At the same time, an individual’s speech can be persuasive towards self or peers or subjects, such as managers. Self-persuasion involves mainly an internal examination of oneself to understand the person’s impression on any aspect and change such views for a better course (Cialdini and Goldstein, 2004). Moreover, leaders will ask their subjects to act in specific ways to give the public a particular picture of the company.

Persuasion plays a central role in effective and successful business communication. It helps achieve different organizational and industrial purposes, including convincing people to change their points of view and make individuals change their ideas about a concept or a way of corporate management (Cialdini, 2001). Moreover, it can be used in resolving disputes that arise within the organizational settings. Persuasive communication occurs across different spheres of a company and cannot be restricted to any specific area and is common in every industry. Politicians can use it in the same way it is used by managers or religious leaders as long as the primary purpose is to achieve the desired goal. Persuasion can also be used by juniors against the management, as the leaders can create a loyal employee base. Thus, persuasion is deployed when there is the need to change the attitudes, mindset, and beliefs held by a given community, which comprises targeted customers and employees.

Impression management (IM) or self-presentation is considered an attribute of persuasive communication. It involves the conscious or unconscious way of influencing other people’s perceptions about different aspects or people. It also involves controlling how information flows within a given setup, especially in social interaction. Effective impression management requires leaders to have perceptions and cognitions that align with their individual goals and behaviors (Bolino, Long, and Turnley, 2016). Organizational leaders and employees often try to appear as positively as possible to their fellows. Everyone is often concerned with what other people would think or say about them regarding how they present themselves at work. It is common for salespeople to appear before their clients and present the product or service they are selling in the best way possible (McFarland et al., 2005). Some of the main ways people present their impressions at the workplace include being aggression, physiological and psychological health, conformity and compliance, aggression, and stigmatization (Impression Management & Workplace Etiquette, n.d). Individuals can possess one or more of these presentations and exhibit them at different times and circumstances.

Persuasive communication is also a critical element in impression management within a business setting. In most cases, people are talented in different ways within any organization, and this often leads to conflicts among different leaders and employees. According to Singh, Kumra, and Vinnicombe (2002), males and females alike possess substantial talents that make them effective in their roles within a given organizational setting. Singh, Kumra, and Vinnicombe (2002) reveal that women are not proactive in playing the administrative game, which the men find easy to do. The authors demonstrate that men are angrier to get benefits from their work, including taking advantage of unforeseen situations by the management. In contrast, women tend to focus on working hard for rewards from management. Singh, Kumra, and Vinnicombe (2002) indicate that both younger and older women believe that impression management is useful but reject to apply them to themselves. This shows the need for persuasion to enable women to embrace impression management and use it to scale various levels of an organization.

Persuasive communication is primarily intended to change individuals and groups’ perspectives and give them an alternative belief. Such a speech requires the one communicating is an attentive listener and one who focuses on and understands the audience. According to Conger (2008), persuasive communication presupposes that the leader should inform the listeners by effectively addressing key areas that can help deliver the intended message. Conger (2008) notes that it is crucial to make the audience aware of the problem in question and understand its consequences on the business or individual. The listener should also understand the solution offered by fully visualizing the effects of the proposed solution, both in the short and long run, and finally know how to act to achieve the desired outcome.

Since the primary goal of persuasive communication is to effect change, the leaders should focus on following the prescribed methods. Conger (2008) noted that the speaker needs to introduce the situation to the listeners. This should be done by giving the audience a concise statement based on the leader’s perspective. It is crucial to make the audience have a more evident view of the issue and its relevance by stating how the problem affects or is likely to involve them in the future. The leader must describe the solution to the identified issue and show the targeted listeners how the proposed method can benefit them. Moreover, the targeted people should feel they are an integral part of the solution and should be shown their roles to realize the intended outcome. Presenting the audience with their action is crucial as it indirectly communicates the cost they have to bear in using the solution. The targeted audience can choose the solution or reject it based on different views derived from the communication.

Everyone in the business setup tries to persuade others to accept different beliefs. Since persuasive communication is an integral part of organizational management, it is important to consider ways to reach others to take the intended action. According to Goldstein et al. (2008), various techniques can help achieve effective business communication. Firstly, organizational leaders must understand that persuasive communication is intended for others. For example, it is crucial to focus on other people when writing or speaking about something intended to change beliefs or behaviors. Consequently, one should enable the listeners to believe they are an important part of the speakers’ visions. Goldstein, Martin, and Cialdini (2008) reveal it is crucial to use “we” rather than “I” since the plural gives the sense of collective responsibility and regard. Employees can be persuaded to behave in certain ways when they believe that the leaders’ have a good intention for their job security and wellbeing in changing the organizational culture. Similarly, targeted customers can listen more attentively if they believe that introducing a new product is likely to solve a problem better than the existing rivals.

Focusing on the other people should be approached tactfully as the listeners do not want to believe they are persuaded into business traps. The goal is to get the audience more involved in the communication and understand the proposed solution (Hardeman, Font, and Nawijn, 2017). A speaker should try to understand the communication from the listeners’ perspective and think about how the speech can affect the audience. This helps the communicator identify with the target audience and use the best methods to persuade them to adopt the ideas intended for them. The interest should build around the receivers of the message and, where possible, make them integral in the decision-making process where possible, especially in the organizational setting (Hughes, 2016). For example, if the business is selling a product, it should focus on the benefit the buyers get instead of the income and the profit the company will make from the sales.

Secondly, there is a need to use persuasive words and action. According to Conger (2008), using words to use in persuasive business communication is crucial. As noted earlier, the focus of persuasive communication should be on another person. Consequently, words such as you, best, free, easy, limited, among others, can greatly impact the minds of the listeners and can make them decide quickly on taking the desired action. Such words are also crucial in leadership and employee management as the days of command-and-control are long gone (Conger, 2008). Conger (2008) reveals that such words should be used frequently to focus more on the audience and make them stick more to the offered solution. The choice of words also makes the speakers subconsciously see the need for addressing the importance of their solutions to the audience and mentally compare it to the existing rival solutions.

The actions portrayed by a leader also play a crucial role in persuading others to adopt a given way of thinking or belief. Some scholars equate the action to nonverbal communication techniques. According to Bonaccio et al. (2016), nonverbal behavior in the workplace tends to have a greater potential to communicate meaning. Bonaccio et al. (2016) reveal specific codes used as modalities of communication in nonverbal behaviors, including body, sensory and contact, and spatiotemporal codes. The body codes comprise body movements such as gestures, expressions of the face, and posture and gait. These are considered the primary form of nonverbal communication in any setting. The sensory and contact codes include haptics, vocalics, and olfactics (Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010). Haptics refers to the act of touching someone to try to communicate with the person, while vocalists entail the use of tonal variations and change of pitch levels to communicate specific issues or declarations. Olfactics is the art of communicating through smell and scent and is used for different purposes. All these nonverbal communication techniques are used in different settings to help achieve the intended goal of the communicators.

Thirdly, effective persuasive business communication can be achieved by eliminating existing barriers. According to Buchanan and Huczynski (2010), no matter how effective a product or service can be, some people may fail to show interest in listening to the speech. At the same time, some people may not need the product or do not have the major requirements to own the product even if they need it. Such individuals are more likely to rubbish the speech offered by the seller or a leader due to the existing limitations. At the same time, a proposed solution can be great, but the manager is considered incompetent. In this case, it would not be easy to convince the listeners to adopt the solution or be attentive to the speech offered. In most cases, there are juniors more qualified than their managers or more experienced than their supervisors and have better approaches to solving the existing issues in the business. Such barriers may impede the success of persuasive communication in business. Therefore, the communicator should not make unnecessary mistakes when speaking with the targeted audience.

In conclusion, persuasive communication is crucial in different settings and is used more in business. Persuasion is influencing other people to change their views or beliefs about something and take a different one. Leaders require persuasion skills to drive change in their organizations and sell their products to new customers in a competitive environment. Persuasion focuses on other people, though persuasion is sometimes self-focused, especially in line with motivation to achieve more. It is associated with impression management, closely linked with nonverbal communication such as body language. It is crucial to eliminate barriers to persuasive business communication by having highly effective and qualified managers and identifying the right audience for the communication.

Reference List

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Singh, V., Kumra, S., and Vinnicombe, S. (2002) ‘Gender and impression management: playing the promotion game’, Journal of Business Ethics, 37(1), 77-89. Web.