Mastering persuasion skills worth the effort


November 12, 1990|By Joyce Lain Kennedy | Joyce Lain Kennedy,1990 Sun Features Inc.

DEAR JOYCE: I've just received a managerial position in a company too small to send me to executive continuing education at Harvard or to another prestigious program like the Center for Creative Leadership. Still, I recognize that I need to improve my ability to persuade and negotiate with others to back my proposals. What can you suggest? -- H.S.G.

Loretta D. Foxman, a leading career counselor, has looked into this issue in detail. Writing in Personnel Journal, the president of the Chicago-based Cambridge Human Resource Group Inc. says you can read your way to persuasion expertise, hire a personal coach or attend classes and seminars.

For reading, try "Getting to Yes" by Roger Fisher and William Ury (Houghton Mifflin, 1981). Two other well-established negotiating authors are Gerard I. Nierenberg and Chester L. Karrass. Airline magazines carry ads for books and tapes on negotiating techniques.

To find a coach, call a university school of business and ask for a referral to a communications professor. Foxman quotes one such consultant, Irving Rein of Northwestern University, who says the notion that one can self-inventory is inaccurate and that tricks have replaced how-to-argue skills.

Managing the entire persuasion process -- using visuals, understanding the audience and constructing arguments that are content -- and situation-appropriate -- is critical, Rein explains.

On finding a class or seminar conveniently available, scour area educational institutions for offerings in negotiation, communications and executive development. Class work is especially valuable, Foxman says, because of input diversity -- participants learn from all group members.

Mastering persuasion skills will cause your career to sprout big green wings.

Dear Joyce: I want to have my own company. I have a good background, but little capital. I heard about a new government program that lets you use your unemployment insurance benefits to start your own business. How do I tap into it? W.R

You probably don't -- at this time. Like the headlined "medical miracles" that won't be available for several years to the average person, the use of unemployment benefits to start a business is an experimental program funded by the U.S. Department of Labor in Massachusetts and Washington state.

A Washington man, laid off as a warehouse manager, underwent business training in a crash program while receiving his biweekly $437 unemployment insurance. He then drew his remaining allotment of $3,800 in a lump sum, which he applied toward a $6,500 machine to use in a lawn-seeding business.

A Massachusetts woman lost out as a software systems engineer and began immediately to plan for her own business as a driving horse (pulls carriages or sleighs) photographer and independent computer systems consultant. She will not receive a lump sum, but will continue receiving $544 from the government every two weeks until her allotment runs out in 26 weeks. For extra capital she has to apply to a local bank that has agreed to make $5,000 to $10,000 loans to Massachusetts Enterprise Project participants.

The idea, based on models in Great Britain and France, is intriguing. You might ask your public employment service office manager if there are any plans to extend the unemployment enterprise programs to your state.

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