Persuading the Stubborn Bull

In Goethal’s Theories and Models of Leadership class, we learned about many different theories of leadership, but one piece that came in particularly handy during this internship was the use of persuasion. Richard Petty describes two main routes of persuasion one can use to try and convince someone of what your idea is right, or your action is the way to go. The first is the central route, in which attitude changes or opinion changes come from a person’s careful consideration of information. The second is the peripheral route, in which attitude changes or opinion changes come from the person associating the issue/object with simple inference on merits, so the more arguments the more persuasive.

My boss can be noted as being particularly stubborn about his ways and is a very rule oriented person, which can be noticed in his business or personal life as he tends to have things go in a particular way, which is usually the way he views to be the right way. This can make things difficult when one believes something different or that a certain rule or choice is unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Utilizing the two routes of persuasion came in handy multiple times from little things as simply as ways to format different documents that we used to bigger items such as the way we operated and scheduled out our days.

I typically used the peripheral route of persuasion to try and convince my boss firstly about things, as it is much faster to pepper him with different smaller arguments often complimented with a larger reasoning to change something to a way I thought was better. If this tactic did not work and the object of discussion was important enough, I would then challenge my boss using the central route of persuasion which would take more time, hence the focus only on important matters. When challenged with having to take more careful consideration of an argument, we would typically try out my formatting way or scheduling way and most of the time he would end up seeing what I was saying, and we would alter our original decision. To my surprise sometimes though, when he was engaged in the central route of persuasion, he would comeback at me with an argument or reasoning that made me change my opinion onto the same page as him. Using Petty’s routes of persuasion helped me to change and orient our business into something that worked more efficiently due to my ability to convince my boss the changes were necessary.