Posted on Feb 29, 2020

Instant Persuasion Summary

PDF, Chapters & Review of Laurie Puhn ‘s Book

Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life

Author: Laurie Puhn J.D

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This book is like a latter-day version of the Carnegie classic, “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” While it isn’t as good (what book is?), it offers an updated take and useful advice on modern issues such as email communication.

She structures the book in terms of rules, with “Dos,” “Don’ts,” and examples to illustrate them (she calls them Wonders and Blunders, an awkward phraseology that seems needlessly self-conscious).

The analogies in the book do a great job of explaining the communication “blunders” and “wonders”

1. Punch with a smile

  • Don’t: Focus only on what someone did wrong
  • Do: Before you give someone criticism, whenever possible preface it with a sincere compliment

2. Spread gossip

  • Don’t: Keep compliments about other people to yourself
  • Do: When someone tells you something good about a person you know, spread positive gossip by passing on the compliment to that person

3. Complain with impact

  • Don’t: Complain about something without offering a solution
  • Do: Whenever you tell someone about a problem, be prepared to offer a solution to that problem at the same time

4. Use the 2-part apology

  • Don’t: Only say “I’m sorry.”
  • Do: First say, “I’m sorry for whatever I did wrong.” Second, say, “In the future, I will [what I will do to prevent myself from doing it again.”

5. Avoid superficial offers

  • Don’t: Offer to do something you don’t really want to do.
  • Do: Always expect a person to say yes to an offer you make. If you’re hoping she won’t, then don’t make the offer.

6. Right your wrongs

  • Don’t: Say that you know something when you are not absolutely sure that you do.
  • Do: Say “I don’t know the answer,” or “I’m wrong,” whenever the situation warrants it.

7. Don’t take sides

  • Don’t: Support someone in an argument by being critical of the person with whom she is arguing.
  • Do: Stay neutral when a friend is having an argument with someone else. Make supporting comments like, “It sounds like this is hard for you,” “You seem really disappointed” and “You have a lot to think about” to encourage your friend to talk while you listen.

8. Find factual solutions

  • Don’t: Argue about something when there are facts available to resolve the disagreement.
  • Do: When you are in a disagreement, ask yourself, “Are we arguing about facts or opinions?” If you conclude that you are arguing over facts, stop arguing and get facts to resolve the issue.

9. Hold your tongue

  • Don’t: Give someone unsolicited advice.
  • Do: Give advice only when
    • you are asked for it; or
    • you get permission to give it after asking, “Would you like my advice?”

10. Beware of uncomplimentary compliments

  • Don’t: Give a before-and-after comparison compliment
  • Do: If you are about to give a before-and-after comparison compliment, cut the compliment in half and share only the after part.

11. Magnify praise

  • Don’t: Miss an opportunity to praise someone in public for something he or she did well.
  • Do: Seize the opportunity to sincerely praise someone in public whenever he or she has done something worthy.

12. Close the deal

  • Don’t: Neglect to work out the specific details of an agreement.
  • Do: When you seek someone’s cooperation, say, “I’d like us to work out the specifics of where we’re going from here.” Then clarify your expectations of who is doing what so you can create accountability for a specific plan of action.

13. Save it for later

  • Don’t: Criticize someone in public while others may be listening.
  • Do: Save your criticism until you are in a private setting and you are sure no one else can hear what you’re saying.

14. Make people your partners

  • Don’t: Order someone to do something.
  • Do: Get someone’s cooperation by offering choices and asking questions like, “What do you think we should do?” or “Do you think you will be able to do this?”

15. Acknowledge others in a new way

  • Don’t: Assume that you don’t need to reply to an email just because the sender didn’t ask you to.
  • Do: Make it a habit to reply to email messages you receive so that the senders are sure you have read them.

16. Show you care

  • Don’t: When someone tells you something that is important to him, don’t follow up on it with him in a timely manner.
  • Do: When someone tells you something that is important to him, make a point of following up on it with that person.

17. Give a final answer

  • Don’t: Assume that it is not necessary to get back to someone with a final answer after you tell that person, “I’ll try,” or “maybe.”
  • Do: When you say “I’ll try” to someone, it is your obligation to get back to that person with the results of your “trying.”

18. Prepare your evidence

  • Don’t: Jump into a conversation without preparation when you want something specific or you want someone to agree with you.
  • Do: Before you attempt to persuade someone to give you something or agree with you, prepare a list of specific reasons to support your request.

19. Get off the hook

  • Don’t: Agree to do a favor that you don’t want to do.
  • Do: When someone you like asks you for a favor that you don’t want to do and you’re concerned about hurting his feelings and creating a conflict, say, “I’m sorry, but I have a policy about this. I don’t fill in the blank.”

20. Appreciate criticism

  • Do: When someone gives you uncalled-for criticism, say, “Thank you for giving me your opinion. I will definitely give it some thought.”

21. Get a green light

  • Don’t: Assume that someone is ready to give you his full attention whenever you have something important to say.
  • Do: Before you delve into an important conversation with someone, ask, “Is this a good time for you?”

22. Rein in roaming anger

  • Don’t: Repeatedly tell one person about a problem you have with another person.
  • Do: If you are angry with someone and you don’t tell him, but you do tell someone else about it on three separate occasions, it’s time to confront the person who made you angry.

23. Avoid empty gestures

  • Don’t: Make an offer and now follow through on it.
  • Do: Wait to make the offer until you are certain that you can follow through.

24. Create comfort in a difficult time

  • Don’t: When someone you care about is ill or mourning the loss of someone close to him, avoid calling that person
  • Do: When someone you care about is ill or mourning the loss of someone close to him, always call that person. Say, “This must be a difficult time for you. Is there anything I can do to help.”

25. Ask and you’ll receive

  • Don’t: Expect someone to offer you something that you want.
  • Do: When you want something, ask for it. People don’t know what you want, only you do.

26. Earn your favors

  • Don’t: Expect someone to do you a favor when you haven’t maintained a consistent relationship with that person.
  • Do: Don’t forget to connect. Show an interest in people when you don’t need anything from them.

27. Disagree without being disagreeable

  • Don’t: Automatically disagree with someone’s opinion before you take time to consider it.
  • Do: Before you disagree with someone’s opinion, ask, “What are you reasons for saying that?” Listen to his answer before you respond.

28. Be a party-wise host

  • Don’t: Think that the job of a party host ends when the guests arrive.
  • Do: When hosting a party, be a people connector. Make your guests feel important by taking the time to introduce them and initiate conversations.

29. Don’t cave under pressure

  • Don’t: Cave under pressure and give someone a final answer before you are prepared to do so.
  • Do: When you are not sure of your answer to a question, the appropriate and decisive response is: “Let me think about it. I’ll get back to you by [a specific day and/or time].”

30. Keep it private

  • Don’t: When someone tells you something personal, decide on your own whether or not that information is confidential.
  • Do: When someone tells you something personal, ask, “Is this confidential information to be kept between us?” If you don’t know whether something is confidential and someone asks you about it, say, “I’m not sure if he would want me to discuss that with anyone. Would you mind asking him yourself?”

31. Invite with caution

  • Don’t: When you have plans with someone, take it upon yourself to invite additional persons to join in on those plans.
  • Do: If you have plans with someone, seek that person’s approval before you invite anyone else to join in on those plans.

32. Have balanced conversations

  • Don’t: Create an unbalanced conversation.
  • Do: If you find yourself talking too much, regain balance in your conversation by asking the other person a question and listening to his answer.

33. Say what you mean

  • Don’t expect someone to read your mind.
  • Do: When someone asks you a question about something that personally affects you, be sure to say what you mean, or you risk being disappointed.

34. Avoid after-the-fact comments

  • Don’t offer negative after-the-fact information about a person’s choice when the decision cannot be changed.
  • Do: If someone’s choice is final and unalterable, do not offer information that tells him something negative about his choice. Instead, say nothing or something positive such as, “That’s nice, enjoy it.”

35. Pay with words

  • Don’t be stingy with your words of appreciation.
  • Do: Money can’t buy happiness, but your words can. Be generous with your words of appreciation.

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