Zimbabwe: Mastering the Art of Persuasion | Metaglossia: The Translation World |

GIVEN the direction of business transactions, the magical power to capture your audience, sway the undecided and convert opponents is a must have skill for modern-day managers. In an era of cross- functional teams and inter-company partnerships, masters of persuasion exert far greater influence than formal power structures.

Persuasion works by appealing predictably to deeply rooted human needs. I recently enrolled in a toastmasters professional club after realising that I needed to fill the gap in my public speaking skills.

The club was designed to train adults to think on their feet and express their ideas with more clarity, more effectiveness and more poise, both in business interviews and before groups through actual experience. But gradually, as time passed, I realised that as a manager I still needed more training in the fine art of getting along with people in everyday business and social contacts.

As I look back over the years, I am appalled at my own frequent lack of finesse and understanding.

How I wish I had worked on these skills a long time ago. Dealing with people is probably the biggest challenge you face, especially if you are in business.

Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer. Research done by a group of behaviourists revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one's financial success is due to one's technical knowledge.

The remaining 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering, to personality and the ability to lead people. In his book, Robert B. Cialdini said that the "because I am the boss type of management" no longer works.

Behavioural scientists have conducted experiments that shed considerable light on the way certain interactions lead people to concede, comply or change.

This research shows that persuasion works by appealing to a limited set of deeply rooted human drives and needs, and it does so in predictable ways.