It’s not hard to persuade someone when you are face-to-face with them. They can see your smile, eyes, and body language, which gives them clues on whether or not they should trust you.
But when you are online, you only have your words.
And if you are talking about farming, sooner or later you are going to face a tough question or maybe an accusation. You will need to persuade someone that you are trustworthy and doing the right things for your animals, the land, and their food.
How you engage with this person can have a lasting effect on how they feel about agriculture and farmers.
So, your words matter a lot. The truth about what you do doesn’t have to come across in a harsh manner. Doing so and being defensive may cause more issues, not less. You should choose phrases and terms that can help people understand your answers without taking offense.
I sometimes run into potential conflicts of opinion, and I would really like to persuade the person to understand my position. How do I do this?
First, I read carefully and ask lots of questions to make sure I understand what they are talking about.
When it’s my turn to respond, I do so in a polite manner.
I try to never say “no” but instead use the phrase “yes and . . .” as much as I can. People love hearing “yes” and the “and” allows you to deliver your point without causing them to get defensive and unwilling to hear what you are trying to say.
Here’s some language that helps me when answering questions:
Yes, I’ve heard that and in my opinion . . .
Yes, and it is my belief . . .
Yes, I don’t doubt that and . . .
Yes, and from my point of view (or POV) . . .
Yes, and it seems to me that . . .
Yes, I agree with that point and I also believe that . . .
If you are trying to support what you say, use phrases such as:
For example . . .
In fact . . .
For instance . . .
To support this . . .
If you believe you can use cause and effect, use terms such as:
Because . . .
Since . . .
Due to . . .
For this reason . . .
Therefore . . .
If … then . . .
Leads to . . .
In effect . . .
Brought about . . .
Made possible . . .
As might be expected . . .
If I have to counter, I try to be gentle and really listen to what I’m saying first (in other words, I say it out loud to myself before hitting send). Here are some more suggestions on terms that can help you counter the discussion:
I realize that you might . . .
Even though I heard you, might I offer . . .
Although you might think that, can I offer . . .
Some people might think that . . .
It may be that you have . . .
Your idea deserves merit and . . .
I must remember that if I add a “but” this term means “no” to most people. They most likely will get defensive and stop listening altogether.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember these terms when things get heated. If I feel frustrated, then I step away from the conversation. If I find that I can’t think of anything nice to say, then it’s better to not say anything at all. I just thank them for their time and move along.Are there other ways that you use language to effectively convey your point of view online? I would love to hear them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author is a Senior Vice President of Digital Initiatives at Dairy Management Inc.