He worked for a selection of advertising and executive search consultancies before establishing his own highly successful executive search consultancy which he ran in Central London for twelve years, employing a specialist team.
Hi Stephen, thanks so much for stopping by the Activia Training website. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Yes, Ashley, of course and thanks for asking me here today. Where to start… I’m originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne and traveled to work in London in a sales role in my early twenties. I was drawn to the recruitment sector and eventually progressed to owning my own business in the West End of London, which I ran for almost 12 years.
When did you start becoming interested in the powers of persuasion?
Every day we all persuade others one way or another; I always admire those who possess a natural ability to win people over to their point of view, don’t you? From an early age, I modeled - copied if you like - the way the most successful people I knew at the time appeared to win business, their vocabulary and the combinations of words they used and their mannerisms. I guess I believed if it works for them, it has to work for me too. It wasn’t until much later that I learned more about the particular nuances of persuasive language.
Your upcoming book, Brilliant Persuasion, is due for release in January 2017. Could you give us an insight into what the book includes?
Yes, of course. Fundamentally we are communicative beings - we use persuasive language every day of our lives - yet most people are unaware how certain words and phrases are more effective than others in enabling us to ensure our viewpoint is accepted.
Certain types of words affect the conscious and subconscious minds of the people with whom we engage in different ways. I liken this to being able to play the piano: we can all hit the notes in any order; we can all speak, yet only a few can play a tune everyone will appreciate.
The average active vocabulary of an adult English speaker is around 20,000 words. What If you knew how to proactively combine these words more persuasively at sales meetings and presentations, or when talking to friends and family. Imagine how much more successful you would be.
Step by step, Brilliant Persuasion reveals some of the most effective word combinations that everyone will be able to use immediately, whatever their circumstances. The more you read the book, the more you will naturally absorb the techniques, and in no time you’ll start to enjoy the benefits every day.
The techniques you will acquire in Brilliant Persuasion are:
- Actionable: the emphasis is on acquiring immediately usable skills rather than learning theory
- Easily understandable: it's a simple practical methodology that easily enables you to assimilate persuasive linguistics into your everyday language
- Long term benefit: the skills you acquire, you will use for the rest of your life
- Multi-purpose: your new-found skills are effective in both business and personal settings.
How did your career background and past experiences help you to write this book?
I've always been involved in sales: it's how I've made my living. Earlier I mentioned how, as a young sales executive, I listened acutely to how successful people spoke to others and copied them. After studying the fundamentals of persuasive linguistics, I discovered many of the phrases I now use without conscious thought had names; broadly they are referred to as Language Patterns.
However, the issue isn’t about the technical names given to these particular word combinations: it is by following the easy-to-understand processes outlined in Brilliant Persuasion you’ll start using them proactively and you’ll quickly assimilate them into your everyday speech, naturally.
During the twelve years I ran my own business I struggled to appoint consultants with a billing capacity equal to my own. I offered guidance about how to deliver persuasive presentations, overcome sales objections and to listen intensely for the giveaway language “tells”- the specific vocabulary used by their prospects that would help them build rapport and ultimately win business.
Are you working on any new projects at the moment or what’s next for you?
Yes, I’m continually adding new material to the Proactive Persuasion seminar and preparing for the second edition of Brilliant Persuasion.
What do you believe are the main benefits of learning persuasive linguistic techniques?
A fascinating question, and one that I ask in a slightly different fashion at the beginning of every Proactive Persuasion seminar. I’d ask: “What’s important to you about being more persuasive?”
Everyone has different answers, for example to:
- win more business
- be able to live in a bigger house
- enjoy more exotic family holidays
- gain greater respect from my peers
- get a promotion at work
- more effectively manage my team
- spend more time with my family
- convince my partner that it's not such a good idea to have the in-laws around for the entire weekend
Most people want to be more persuasive for many different reasons and ultimately for some, it means having greater levels of financial and personal freedom.
Do you believe persuasion is a skill that anyone can learn, or are some people just naturally more persuasive than others?
Some people are naturally more persuasive than others because they instinctively use the word combinations revealed in Brilliant Persuasion. And absolutely yes - everyone can be more persuasive and influential. The trick is to have a goal, being honest, ask yourself: “What’s important to me about being more persuasive?” When you have your answer ask yourself what's important to you about that and whatever your answer, for the third time ask yourself what's important about that. Eventually, you’ll understand the “real” reason why being more persuasive is important to you. Once you have this reason, see yourself enjoying the benefits of being more persuasive, whatever this means to you. Then with your true goal in mind do everything you can to achieve it.
What is one tip you can reveal for our readers that will help them to be instantly more persuasive?
If you want to be more persuasive, it is imperative to develop rapport. Brilliant Persuasion reveals an alarmingly simple yet effective technique to enable everyone to develop rapport instantly.
Finally, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, always have a goal, something that will truly motivate you to succeed - then do everything in your power to reach your goal. If you make a mistake, take it on the chin and try again and again. Never give up.
Always talk positively to yourself; there are enough people around you who might desire to bring you down, don’t help them by limiting yourself.
Stephen's book, Brilliant Persuasion: Everyday Techniques to Boost Your Powers of Persuasion, comes out on the 11th January 2017. If you'd like to take a look and pre-order a copy, you can do so here.