[This is part two in the series on effective persuasion for sport coaches. Click here for the other articles.]
I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.
– Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
You’re reading this, which means the title did exactly what I hoped it would do — it sparked your interest. And that’s exactly what effective sports coaches have to do — they have spark people’s interest.
Why Sparking Interest Is Important
Persuading someone to take positive action is at the core of what coaches do. And it’s one of the hardest processes for a coach to master. Barking orders at an athlete and expecting positive action is unrealistic — especially today.
Shoot, it never really worked.
Today, once you’ve grabbed someone’s attention, you have to spark their interest to get the action you want.
From a little spark may burst a flame
It’s a pivotal step. Here’s an example.
Jake had been playing left tackle all season. He’s done a good job, stayed healthy, and worked his way into a starting position. Now, due to injuries, you need Jake to switch to right tackle. He won’t start immediately, which will be tough for him, but he will once he has learned the position.
You’ve asked Jake to stop by your office, to discuss the switch. That is Step #1 in the persuasion process — you’ve got his attention. (BTW, if you ever ask an athlete to stop by your office without telling them why, rest assured, you WILL have her attention.)
- Article: A Coaches Guide To Client/Athlete Persuasion – Kevin Carr
- Book: The Humanistic Sport Experience: Visions And Realities – Ben Lombardo
- Book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert B. Cialdini
Now for Step #2
The outcome of this meeting is critical:
- for you
- for the team
- for Jake
Unfortunately, often coaches tell an athlete what to do and then assume that’s the end of story. But that was sooo yesterday. Today it’s different. Today it takes more to persuade.
Simply, it comes down to value.
Effective persuasion is convincing someone to take POSITIVE action. If Jake doesn’t find some value in taking the action, he won’t be committed to the task. Which means he might take action, but even if he does it might not be positive action. That could be the opposite of what you want, and for poor Jake, making the change is going to be challenging enough, but tougher still if his interest is not sparked and there is not value in it for him.
Sport leadership expert Jeff Janssen has constructed a commitment continuum which lends perspective. The greater the value for the team member, or in our case Jake, the further to the right on the scale he will be.
- Book: The Commitment Continuum System
- Article: 7 Steps To Move Someone Up The Commitment Continuum – Jeff Janssen
- Article: Getting Through To Kids – Michael Josephson
Try Mapping The Value
Focusing on Jake, how could you determine what he values?
Well, maybe his dream is to be the best left tackle in the conference. Or possibly he is the type of special athlete who dreams of sacrificing personal gain for the team’s best interest. If it’s the former, then the switch will fail. But if it is the latter, then things are looking much brighter.
How do you tell what the person on the other end of the conversation values? One way is to use an Empathy Map. Created by Dave Gray, at Xplane, Empathy Maps are a tool to get into the mind of another person. They help you:
see what they see
hear what they hear
feel what they feel
And with that knowledge you have a better understanding of what is of value to the other person. As Aaron Orendorff says,
it’s about entering the conversation that is already going on in a person’s heart
- Article: Empathy Maps: A Complete Guide To Crawling Inside Your Customer’s Head – Damien Farnworth
- Book: Business Model Generation – Dave Gray
- Slideshare: Culture Mapping Space And Place – Dave Gray
Time for a quick review.
- Persuasion, an important tool for a coach, is “convincing someone to take positive action“
- There are four main steps to effective persuasion
- Step #1 Is Getting Someone’s Attention
- Step #2 Is Sparking Interest
- There are other ways to figure it out, but an Empathy Map is an excellent way to grasp what someone might value
As a coach, you’ll need the skill to persuade.
The more effective you are at that skill, the better coach you’ll be.
And as I started the conversation, This Really Is Important.
Next week will be step #3 in the persuasion process, about engagement and fascination. Until then, please share this with a friend of colleague who needs help sparking someone’s interest.