Sunday, April 19, 2015

Speaking with persuasion


This month is the 150th anniversary of the end of the American civil war, at least the fighting part, with the surrender of the troops under General Robert E. Lee to General Grant at Appomattox in Virginia.

But, a couple of years ago was the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the end. The beginning of the end came at the battle at Gettysburg, PA. in July, 1863. A few months later, in November, Lincoln gave his celebrated Gettysburg Address

Project managers would do well to look at the address from the point of view of speaking with persuasion:
  • It is set in a narrative context;
  • It begins with facts we can all agree to;
  • It is not narcissistic; "we" and "our" throughout
  • It gives compelling reasons;
  • It is short;
  • It is commonly understandable; and
  • It has stickiness.
Would that everything we say to a decision maker have those qualities.

Do you know the Address? (everyone in my generation had to memorize it)
Tim David explains it all in his posting:

Opening with a narrative we can all agree has facts:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal
Follow-up with compelling reasoning:
Why? “The proposition that all men are created equal.”
Why? “To see whether that nation, or any nation so conceived can long endure.”
Why? “For those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”
Why? “For us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.”
Why? “[So] that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Of course, persuasion works right along side motivation and self-interests. There's nothing so easy as to persuade someone of something that is also in their self-interest, and it's also self-evident on the face. But in 1863, that was not the case on either side of the question. Fortunately, the Address was masterfully persuasive, motivating, uplifting, and, as I said, put a capstone on the beginning of the end.
(And, I'm a Southerner)

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