In Communication, Begin With The End In Mind

by Dr. Rick Kirschner on July 9, 2012

Insider's Guide To The Art of PersuasionThe first question that a doctor is taught to ask a patient is, “What is your chief complaint?” more commonly expressed as “What’s wrong?” or “What’s your problem?” I’ve observed that everyone has the answer to those questions. Everyone knows what’s wrong, what’s the problem, and what is their chief complaint. Everybody knows what they don’t want, including you. And complaining is easy, anyone can complain. But I can tell you what your problem is. The problem is that if all you know is what you don’t want, you will get more of it. In part, this is the nature of sanity. And in part, it is a function of your reticular activating system, a group of cells in your brain stem that acts like radar for relevance to wants and don’t wants.

Tell little Johnny not to ‘bother those people,’ and he will immediately proceed to do so. Tell little Johnny not to ‘play with the cigarette butts in the ashtray,’ and that’s exactly what he’ll do. The radar for relevance kicks in when you’re getting married, and suddenly it seems the whole world is getting married too! Having a baby? It’s a baby boom! Buying a certain car? There goes a truckload of them! What you notice is relevant to what you want, or don’t want. And if all you know is what you don’t want, you will get more of it.

That’s why the challenge in life, and in the Art of Persuasion, is to define a direction, and organize yourself around that outcome. You need to know what you are aiming towards, what you intend to achieve, and why you intend to achieve it, or you just keep cycling back to the easy stuff, the complaints, problems, and obstacles that you can’t seem to avoid.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “Begin with the end in mind.” Knowing what you intend to end up with is essential. I call this your persuasion proposition or proposal. It will help you organize, practice, and respond appropriately when the unexpected occurs. It is a fundamental key to purposeful and productive behavior.

A persuasion proposition consists of the following elements. What do you propose to do? (This is your idea, solution, product or service.) Who do you want to persuade to do it? Where do you intend for this to happen? When do you intend for this to happen? Why do you want to persuade your persuadee? And why should they care?

This last question, why should they care, is important, because people are more persuaded by their own interests than they are by yours.  Your feedback and comments below…

Be well,


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