Convincing vs. Compelling: It’s not just what you say, but how you say it

Pay attention to how you say things. Dr. Goulston shows you how the tone and delivery count as much as the content and what works for different situations.
This is a photo of Mark Goulston, M.D.
Mark Goulston, M.D.

I was recently interviewed along with my colleague and good friend, Sandler Training expert, Marcus Cauchi, for an episode of Selling Power titled: “The Power of Listening in Sales.”

After watching it, I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between Marcus and me in tone, pace, and energy. I worried that I came off as too slow, soft and dull to effectively get my message across to viewers and listeners.

I surveyed my social media contacts as to whether my worries were founded.

I received interesting and insightful comments including:

  • “Your tone was fine and deliberate, but you could stand to speed it up. Also, lower the intensity of Marcus’s voice so that we matched.”
  • “Marcus’ energy might possibly play better to a sales audience — which the interview is aimed at — and that audience would see it as enthusiastic and energizing.”
  • “Marcus was more convincing, you were more compelling.”

It was that last comment that caused me to want to drill down deeper into the difference between being energetic, passionate and convincing (EPC) and being compelling, engaging and inviting (CEI).

The advantages of being EPC:

  • Will keep listeners awake and alert.
  • EPC is crisp and clear.
  • EPC is entertaining.
  • EPC demonstrates and engenders confidence from others.
  • EPC resonates with sales audiences who are by nature and trained to be assertive and even aggressive (with admonitions to not go too far and “roll over” people).
  • EPC mixed with likability will be less likely to offend.

The disadvantages of being EPC:

  • People may feel talked at or talked over which even if your intent is honorable may cause you to remind them of people in the past who they found to be too pushy.
  • It feels “salesy” to people who have a built-in negative reaction to it and that can cause them to distrust you, even if they have confidence that you know what you’re talking about.
  • Generally speaking, if you talk fast (i.e. are a fast talker), people’s inclination is to think you’re hiding something, distrust you and only trust you if you have a verified track record of positive results in what they’re looking to you for.
  • When you pick up speed it can cause others to feel hesitant to interrupt you, which can cause frustration, resistance and a disinclination to do business with you.
  • You can develop momentum deafness and blindness, because while it might feel good to you when you’re on a roll, you may tune out the clues from the other person that you have worn out your welcome.
  • Your EPC energy can also cause people to feel they have to or should do what you’re telling them to do, which most people resist when feeling pushed that way because they would rather choose to do something than feel forced.
  • In the long run, people will want to avoid you, because in their minds they find you too overwhelming.

The advantages of being CEI:

  • People feel talked with instead of at or over or even to.
  • People feel respected, engaged and invited which causes them to be able to feel as if they’re choosing to do something vs. being pushed into it.
  • People who are CEI are more influential and that influence is longer lasting unless you’re dealing with a pure “dyed in the wool” transactional person who only wants to know what the bottom line is.
  • People will often trust you as well as respect and have confidence in you if you are competent and have a track record of getting positive results.

The disadvantages of being CEI:

  • Younger people, especially millennials may find you slow and boring and become impatient with you.
  • Analytic, bottom line and especially people on the Spectrum will be irritated with you
  • The above people in 1 and 2 above may avoid you, because they may see you as too long-winded and tangential.
  • You may mistakenly believe you’re being impactful – because you are so enjoying the feeling of hearing yourself talk – and relevant to others, when they feel you’re taking too much time.
  • Some people may see you as manipulative as you’re seeming to rely too much on charm and persona than on data and facts.

How can you tell if you’re being more convincing/persuasive vs. compelling/influential?

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It’s not always the case, but when you’re being convincing/persuasive, the other party less often initiates the next step and thus you will be the one to ask what they want to do. If you do enough of those and focus on volume, you will close a certain — even if it is small — number of opportunities. As long as you have the stamina to do that, that will continue to work for you.

When you’re being compelling/influential, the other party will more frequently initiate asking about the next steps. That is because you have given them the space to choose to do so and also because they believe that they can’t depend on you to push for the next step. If you do the proper screening and qualifying of the other person, you can expect to close more of these opportunities in the long run.  As another benefit, the people you deal with are more likely to refer you to other friends and colleagues because they know that those other people will prefer working with someone who is less pushy.

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Dr. Mark Goulston is an award-winning business psychiatrist, a consultant for Fortune 500 companies and the best-selling author of seven books. His latest, Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with Irrational and Irresponsible People in your Life can be found on Amazon. Catch up on Dr. Goulston’s previous articles here.

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