5 Lessons on Being Persuasive…From a Three-Year-Old!

Have you wondered how kids manage to get so much of what they want, even when it’s something absolutely ridiculous?

Like, who in their right mind would pay $15 for a Tinker Bell snow cone at Disney on Ice?  It’s ICE!  Stand close enough to the rink and the skaters will kick some out right at you!

How do kids get their parents to do these things?

It’s persistence. It’s confidence.  It’s enthusiasm. It’s learning what works and what doesn’t.

We think kids are brilliant at marketing themselves and at being persuasive. They can make people fall in love with them, melt even the coldest of hearts, and get what they want. (Well, some kids can, anyway.  And those are the kids who understand the fundamentals and stick to them.)

Let’s take three-year-old Lucy, for example:  all blue eyes and a wild mess of honey blonde curls, Lucy’s a girl who generally gets what she wants. In other words, her parents are amongst the sorry saps who’ve purchased the $15 Tinker Bell snow cones in commemorative cups (for both her and her equally persuasive big sister, mind you). 

Lucy knows tactics that many adults have forgotten since we were her age:

Have confidence, ask for what you want

If you never ask for what you want—even if you’re pretty sure you won’t get it anyway—you’ll get nothing.  At three, Lucy is not at all afraid to ask for what she wants.  If she wants a string cheese, she asks for it.  She learns pretty quickly that she usually gets it as long as she says “please.” So, let’s say you’ve been feeling shy about asking for your customer’s email addresses so that you can build your email list.  Don’t be afraid that you’re being pushy or worry that they don’t want to give it to you.  Maybe they’d be delighted to get email offers from you.  You never know until you ask!

Be persistent, try another angle

Lucy has also learned that it’s not so much what you ask for but rather how you ask for it. Kids are often described as “sponges” in that they learn things with extraordinary speed.  If Lucy doesn’t get what she wants, she tries again from a fresh angle. 

For example, Lucy quickly learns that sitting at the table and yelling, “I’m hungry!” generally results in inaction or, even worse, glares.  And then she realizes she forgot something.  The “P-word!”  So she throws a “please” in there and voila!  Food appears. The next time Lucy gets hungry, the process becomes ever more streamlined until she is the picture of polite manners—and she gets exactly what she requests.

When something doesn’t work for you the first time, go back and think about your approach.  What can you improve on to get what you want?  Sometimes it’s not what you’re trying to get, but how you’re going about trying to get it.

Be affectionate

Little kids are wonderfully affectionate—and not just when they need to be.  They shower everyone from parents to pets, playmates to teachers with love every single day.  They have an amazing way of endearing themselves, and we as adults can certainly learn from this. 

This is not to say that we need to go around hugging everyone all the time. But it doesn’t hurt to spread a little love every once in a while.  Reach out to a client just to say hello.  Don’t push anything on them, or request anything from them.  Just touch base.  Send them a news article that made you think of them, or a humorous one that is relevant to their business, or simply give a little social love on Facebook or Twitter.  Anything you can do to make someone feel special, do that.  You’ll find yourself winning a place in many a heart and that is naturally good for business!  People want to associate with people who make them feel good!

Have enthusiasm and show up ready to play

Have you ever seen a kid walk into a birthday party? As soon as they see those balloons and all those other kids partying down, SHOOMP!  They’re in there mixing it up with all the other little monkeys and screaming their precious little heads off.  Any anxieties revealed in the pre-party preparations and commute quickly dissolve into raucous bedlam.  This is how you need to be! Show up exhibiting enthusiasm and be willing to get in there and play! (Take it easy on the bedlam though—don’t put ice cream in your hair.  That look is soooo pre-K!)

Do what works, avoid what doesn’t

When Lucy sees her sister doing something cool, she will stop at nothing until she can give it a whirl! She has the benefit of watching her sister blaze trails and letting her do the experimenting for her. 

This is something you can do too. Don’t be afraid to find out what your competitors are doing.  What’s working for them?  Where do they crash and burn?  When big sister does something to warrant the naughty step, Lucy is observing with keen interest and populating her memory banks.  Survey, take notes, put your own unique stamp on it and give it a try.  Of course, this is not to say that you should just do everything your competition is doing.  You should avoid that stuff that blows up, do all of the stuff that works and then some new stuff too. 

We hope you can take some of what we talked about today and find some ways to apply it to your world.  If Lucy can do it, so can you!

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