The idiom ‘pressing the right buttons’ refers to the ability to get someone to do what you want by saying or doing the right things. In today’s world of machines and AI, interactions matter the most.
To succeed in interactions at work and in life, persuasion is one of the most important capabilities.
Reading people right
Understanding what drives individuals is critical. Focus on the words they use, gestures, hobbies and interests and how others describe them. Once you decode these, you will be able to classify them into one of these four archetypes or a combination of these:
The individual is excited about the possibilities of the future and are always looking for new ways to improve things. Spontaneous, they are able to change their plans and their ideas as needed. They are excited to share ideas and look for new people to collaborate with.
Detail-averse, they are more interested in the big picture. Visionaries have many diverse interests. Expect a busy and messy desk.
The person will be curious, experimental, and logical. They are also focused, competitive, and data-driven. They are able to set priorities and stay on track. They are not easily distracted and can work for long periods on a single task. They seek data and insights and are not afraid to ask difficult questions about inconsistencies. They are big on documentation, order, methods and quality. Expect a lot of stuff on the desk, neatly organised.
Someone who values stability, practicality and efficiency. They like to get things done in a timely manner. They are also loyal and trustworthy, and they are not afraid to speak their minds. Punctuality matters a lot to them. Expect a clean, clutter-free desk.
Always looking for ways to build relationships and connect with others. Often intrinsically driven, they are motivated by their own interests and passions.
Non-confrontational, diplomatic, and empathetic, they value relationships and are always looking for ways to build and maintain strong connections with others. Expect a fairly pleasant desk decorated with many personal artefacts.
Once you zero in on the archetype of the individual, you need to tailor your actions to be able to persuade them. Knowing your own archetype is a good starting point – you will know what matters to you. It will also help you identify your own pet peeves in interactions.
What matters most is the archetype of the individual you want to persuade. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts:
Don’t bore the visionary with details
Engage them by describing the problem. Then step back and give them the opening to share their ideas. Note down their ideas. Don’t be sceptical. Snowball the discussion to keep the conversation lively. Wear your passion on your sleeve. Use as visual a language as possible.
Go big on data and logic with the architect
Keep your conversation sharp. Have a logical structure with validated facts. Share pre-reads and carry printouts to create impact - Ensure the quality speaks for itself. Be assertive around your point of view.
Think through all the possible challenges. Have a proof-of-concept blueprint ready as the ultimate commitment to your idea.
For the pragmatist respect the agenda
Be on time. Better, to be a bit early for the meeting. Share the agenda, the pre-reads, the analysis and the decisions required ahead of the meeting. Have a step-by-step plan for the conversation.
Cite your sources. Showcase evidence. Put in extra effort to not rock the boat.
Build relationships with the connector
Lead with everything besides the agenda – the weather, the world at large, common connections, the latest movie or the new restaurant that you discovered. During the core discussion, share the backstory as descriptively as possible – talk more about the people involved.
Ask questions and listen patiently. Don’t look at the watch. Don’t push back. Be kind. Be nice. Be warm. Ask them how they feel about the issues discussed.
It demands a lot from us to shift the focus from what matters to us to what matters to others. But once we realise how crucial it is for persuasion, we can master the ability. All it takes is to observe individuals and discern their archetypes.
Want to practice analysing people? Try classifying your friends into the four archetypes. Then move on to your colleagues, customers and suppliers. It won’t be long before pressing the right buttons becomes second nature.