He’s big. He’s mean. And he’s just said the four words every driver dreads to hear: “Registration and license, please.”
All I wanted to do was run over to the convenience store and grab some milk. Now, my palms were sweating. The last thing I needed was a ticket. Earlier in my life, I would’ve ended up with a ticket … or even in the back seat of the patrol car. But it was different this time. Because I had a powerful secret that allowed me to drive off two minutes later with nothing more than a friendly warning.
Being able to convince a police officer to give you a warning instead of a ticket is a handy skill. It’s the same skill that you can use to influence any authority figure – and learning it can change your life.
First, recognize two critical facts when dealing with an authority figure:
The authority figure is in a position where he has the final say regarding your situation. Authority figures don’t have any fear that you may be able to strike back at them or otherwise cause them harm should they choose not to side with you.
The authority figure is likely waiting to pounce on you if you challenge his authority. Authority figures generally enjoy the power that they have. It is a natural instinct.
Thus, you are limited to persuasion techniques that will make them feel as if they should accept your position because it is the right thing to do.
Here are the “Three Rules for Persuading Authority Figures”:
1. Admit that you are wrong.
If, for example, you’re dealing with a police officer who pulled you over, you might be tempted to say, “Excuse me, officer, but I don’t think you know who you are dealing with. I am a personal friend of the mayor.”
This is not a good idea. It is unlikely that just because you know the mayor the officer will not write the ticket. Instead, it is better to say, “I’m not going to try and claim that I wasn’t speeding, because I know I was … and I shouldn’t have been doing it.”
Never try and claim that you are right. Chances are, the authority figure has heard all of your arguments before. If anything, it will only antagonize the guy. If your goal is to persuade the authority figure to accept your point of view (as opposed to laying down groundwork for a legal defense), it is much better to acknowledge that you were completely wrong. If he was expecting a confrontation, that will take all the wind out of his sails.
2. Acknowledge that the authority figure has all the power – and that his decision is final.
Say something like, “I understand that the final decision for this matter is yours. So I understand if you have to give me a ticket.”
By saying this, you have done something for the authority figure. You have acknowledged his power – so he will instinctively feel like reciprocating. In simple language, since you did something nice for the authority figure, he will want to do something nice for you.
Now, that does not mean the police officer will simply forget about your ticket. He has a conflict … the sense that it is his obligation to write you a ticket because it is his job. So, there is one final critical step.
3. Shift the blame somewhere else … so it seems that it is not your fault that you made the error.
In our justice system, this “parry technique” is commonly used. It’s a kind of defense that is well recognized, and deeply embedded into every level of our culture.
So, you explain your reason. Perhaps you were speeding because you did not want to get to work late. And the reason you got a late start was because your kid was vomiting. Now, you have offered a sympathetic reason why you were speeding. It can be argued that it was not your fault. After all, you were just trying to be a good parent and a responsible person by staying employed. By providing such an explanation, you have given the officer a way to justify giving you a warning instead of a ticket.
Naturally, there are many variables in situations such as these, so there is no way to guarantee that these persuasion techniques will work every time with every authority figure. But they have been successfully used, over and over again, by me and other students of the art of persuasion.
D.M., a small-business owner, used the “Three Rules for Persuading Authority Figures” when he had a problem with a county licensing administrator. D.M. had a desperate need to get his county license renewed, but there was a tiny technical problem that could’ve required weeks to remedy. If he hadn’t been able to convince the administrator to renew his license immediately, while he corrected the problem, his business would’ve been shut down for weeks. By using the three-step plan I described today, he was able to get the government employee to feel sympathetic toward him … and straighten out the paperwork mess.
B.B. used the same technique to solve a big problem with her boss. She needed to take a weekend off – but when she had approached her boss for time off in the past, he was never willing to accommodate her. This time, by (1) admitting that her boss held all the cards, (2) acknowledging that she was not right in wanting this time off, and (3) parrying the blame to something that wasn’t her fault, she was able to convince her boss to sympathize with her plight. He gave her the time off.
M.K. was dealing with a difficult loan officer at the bank. But with “Three Rules for Persuading Authority Figures,” he got his loan approved.
“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.”– Benjamin Franklin
[Ed. Note: The “Three Rules for Persuading Authority Figures” is just one of more than 20 persuasion secrets in Larry Fredericks’ life-changing new program. For more information, follow this link to Larry’s “Master of Persuasion” site.]