Persuasive Conversations

In August I was selected to go on the Momentum “Train the Trainer” course. As an experienced trainer myself I was intrigued to see how they would do things. It turned out to be a brilliant day the training was delivered in an upbeat style no boring bits.

I have delivered training in various forms over the last twenty years and would consider myself experienced but a lot of what they taught was brand new to me. It was based on techniques imported from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign but Bernie can’t take all the credit. His techniques were actually imported from the ancient Greeks on the premise of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. One of the most interesting aspects for me it was the appeal to Ethos Logos and Pathos.

What this means in practice on the doorstep is you should mirror the response of the person who is speaking. For instance they are talking about an issue on which they claim expertise you should respond with expertise either of your own or which you can clearly identify.

If they are discussing issues based around logic i.e. statistics and numbers you should also respond in kind. If they are based in emotion you should again respond with emotion, ideally using your own personal story of how for instance a Labour government has benefited you in the past. (free tertiary education in my case.)

Yesterday two Momentum colleagues and I delivered our first training at the Inspire centre in Levenshulme. Over thirty people showed up on a Saturday morning and I will admit to feeling a little nervous as to whether I would remember everything we have been taught and cram it all into a session lasting barely two hours.

We got everyone started with sharing personal stories in groups and once they started it was all it was nigh on on impossible to stop them enthusiastically telling each other how a Labour government had helped them and how this has made them supportive of Labour policies in the future. That is what is going to make the difference on the doorstep; personal stories not barraging people with facts.

Another issue which was new to me was the technique of acknowledging what someone on the doorstep says. For instance if someone says they are worried about immigration the appropriate response is not; “No, you’re wrong”, it is to acknowledge what they say to tell them you’ve heard them. You know they have concerns and then try and drill down and find out what exactly these concerns are. Almost always where the headline concern is immigration the real issue is often schools, housing, jobs and the NHS.

Once you get to that you can tell them exactly what Labour Policies are on those matters and how that will impact the problems that they are identifying. If they’re still undecided on matters you can make a note of that so the next time they are canvassed their issues can be addressed.

At the end of our two hour session we got some fabulous comments from our delegates and we immediately conducted a door knocking session to enable them to put the theory into practice. We’ve got lots more of these sessions planned.

Thisis how we are going to win the next General Election with previously unengaged people like me learning how to train others to use ancient rhetorical techniques to gain a twenty-first century victory.

Marcia Hutchinson MBE  is a former lawyer and publisher of culturally diverse  educational resources.

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