Ethically Influencing and Persuading for Results in Business Coaching

By Marie Taylor, Steve Crabb

As a mentor and business coach, you have a responsibility to ethically persuade. When looking to influence, always keep the end goal in mind and consider what could be an obstacle or resistance to reaching it.

Always think, what does my language do to the submodalities of the listener or receiver?

The word manipulation is emotionally charged, especially in the context of influencing and persuasion. For many people, it implies being underhanded. The word manipulation means “to use or change (numbers, information, and so on) in a skillful way or for a particular purpose.” If you add “or to move in a particular direction” to this definition, it becomes clear that without moving customers, colleagues, or suppliers in the direction of saying yes, no business would ever happen. The intention behind the manipulation is what’s important.

Like any tools, persuasion, and influence can be used for good as well as harm. Many of the principles and concepts in business coaching have been misused by many people and even been used for evil. They have been used for speed seduction, unethical selling, politics, warmongering, and radicalization, but that does not make the tools themselves evil. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that there are clients who see these tools as ways to persuade people to make decisions that are not in the receiver’s best interests.

You’ll find enough coaching clients who want to use persuasion and influence ethically. Better to turn a project down than engage in something that goes against your morals. Use this simple model to decide which projects to coach clients in and which to say no to. If the results are

  • Win (for the communicator) and win (for the listener), say yes.
  • Win (for the communicator) and lose (for the listener), say no.
  • No (for the communicator) and win (for the listener), say no.

The term toxic leadership has been used to describe the failure rate of CEOs. In the past two decades, 30 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have lasted less than three years, with studies showing CEO failure rates ranging from 30 percent to 75 percent in the first three years of tenure. Toxic leadership is a phenomenon that operates from the win/lose perspective and is driven by hubris, ego, and a lack of emotional intelligence.

Valuing the importance of a win/win relationship with colleagues, staff, customers, and suppliers will increase your value at work, your effectiveness, and your longevity.