Two Persuasion Techniques in Action

Getting under Someone Else’s Skin

(click below to view the video or read on if you’d prefer!)

How did you find using “SWAY”©? For those readers who may have missed the article on this model of persuasion, a very brief recap:

  1. ‘S’ is for ‘Significance‘ where you investigate the interest and need of your audience – whether it’s one individual or several people – around the matter you want to influence them over. The challenge there is to ask the right questions to open them up.
  2. ‘W’ is for ‘Way of being‘ where you decode your audience’s way of functioning, how they behave, what kind of personality they are. Here it’s about really listening to the words people use and not assuming that we are all the same even if we use the same words.
  3. ‘A’ is for ‘Adapt‘ because, once you know what your target audience is interested in and how they function, you need to adapt your communication to match their need and style. The challenge in this stage is to get your mind to shift enough that you can effectively do that.
  4. Finally, ‘Y’ is for ‘get readY‘ (so you see how creative I can be!). This final stage covers a number of activities to finely hone your message once you know how to pitch it. The challenge here is to cover all bases in order to come out with a very sleek communication.

For more on “SWAY”©, go to the dedicated video and article by clicking here.

The interesting thing is that, once you really have assimilated “SWAY”©, it becomes second nature and you naturally pay attention to people, listen better and communicate better. The model works just as well for a big project where you need to get many stakeholders’ sponsorship as it does for a meeting where you’re trying to get enough people to subscribe to your point of view. In the case of the big project, you can use “SWAY”©in a very elaborate manner while during the meeting you can just use it in your head and quickly decode people and use their words in your own sentences.

So let’s look at two examples of using “SWAY”©:

You’re at the ‘W’ stage and trying to make sense of another person. You are sitting with someone talking about all the impediments of a computer infrastructure. They go on about the errors, the delays and the costs. This person is a “problem talker“. When they look at a situation, they see its shortcomings and their brain hungers for fixes. This kind of person will use words like “problems”, “issues” and “concerns”. They will worry about things going wrong. Conversely, consider the vocabulary of the “achiever“: it will all be about “possibilities”, “opportunities”, “expectations” and “results” – the language of goals being set, pursued and attained. Does this help?

So what I’d like you to do after you’ve watched this article is start paying more attention to your colleagues’ words: can you spot the different personalities in your team?

Now let’s move on to the ‘A’ stage where you want to use what you learnt to make sure you adjust your communication to your audience. Going back to the example of the “problem talker”, their mode of operation means that you will need to talk about cost savings and risk reduction, in short you will focus your comments on the solutions which your project will bring, the issues it will solve, and the problems it will fix.

Conversely, to the person who is sharing with you their commercial ambitions and is all about achieving more, you will pitch all the exciting new things which the project will enable, all the benefits for the future – such as straight-through processing, more robust reports, and more up-to-date information. Like them, your language will be that of goal attainment, showing that you share the person’s mindset and ambitions. With the problem talker, your words would have echoed his concerns and the need for remediation. Do you see how different you might make your pitch?

So another thing for you to go and try out. See what you think you’ve learnt about someone and then practice persuading them: adapt your communication style to what you think the person will welcome rather than what you would ordinarily do. And see what happens!

I hope these two practical illustrations of “SWAY”©will be useful to you. Influence and persuasion are crucial to get ahead in the corporate world because they make you politically-savvy (rather than political).

Do let me know what you thought by leaving a comment on my website or emailing me directly at

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