Have you ever been frustrated when you need someone to make a decision, or take an action, and it just takes way too long?

Some people are easy to influence.

Back in my corporate days, there were some people I could have one conversation and the job was done.  For example, if it was a boss of mine, they’d make the decision I needed them to so I could move forward with a project.  Or if it was one of my staff members, they’d agree to take on a task I needed them to complete.

But there were a large number of people who I needed to practically hound – or at least that’s what it felt like – in order to get any sort of agreement from them, on just about anything!

And then I learned that people are convinced in different ways, and that most people are never going to make snap decisions.  And it was such a relief to know that it wasn’t necessarily me that was the problem.  Well actually, it was.  I wasn’t factoring in the different ways people make decisions into my communications.

So let’s go through four ways people are convinced.

The first type of person is what’s called an automatic convincer.  These are people who are easily persuaded of just about anything.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a pushover, though.  It means that they don’t need loads and loads of information in order to make their mind up about something.  If it makes sense to them, they’re in and they’ll say so.  You know where you stand with them right away.  These are the people who you can resolve things with in one conversation, often.

The second type of person is a number of times convincer.  And that means they need to hear what you have to say a certain number of times before they’ll be persuaded or before they’ll make a decision.  They want to see things from a number of different perspectives in order to feel comfortable with making a decision.  So you might need to have two, three, or four touch-points with them before they’ll make any sort of decision.

The third type of person is what’s called a period of time convincer.  That means, really they need some water to pass under the bridge before they’ll commit to anything.  They’re not going to spontaneously say yes, but they haven’t said no either.  Period of time convincers need to sit with things, they need some time to soak things in.   Not even necessarily to do serious analysis.  They just make decisions after a period of time.

There’s a fourth type of convincer, and frankly, this fourth type’s hard to work with.  They’re what’s called a constant convincer.  These are the folks who want you to “prove” yourself over and over and over again, and they’re almost never convinced of anything.

By the way, this isn’t just true of leadership in the sense of getting your team members to do what you need them to.  The same thing happens in sales.

Think of going to buy a car.  If you were at the car dealership, would you be driving away from the lot as the owner of a new car on the day you first went to the dealership?  Some people do – automatic convincers.  But if you need to go for two or three test drives before you take the plunge, you might be a number of time convincer.  Or if you need to go away and think about it for a week, but you don’t need to take another test drive – you just need some time to pass – you’re probably a period of time convincer.  Constant convincers probably need someone else to come to the car yard with them and make the decision, because they’re rarely satisfied on their own and struggle to make a decision.

Not everyone is automatically convinced.

I see a lot of people who are disillusioned when after one conversation with someone, they haven’t got an outcome.  They want everyone to be automatic convincers.  But the reality is, most people aren’t automatic convincers and getting them on board takes a bit more work.

Your challenge

Once you know that there are a variety of ways people make decisions – and you take a moment to consider people in your team, or clients you’ve had – you’ll recognise that people you work with tend to fall into one of the four categories.

Your challenge is to structure how you communicate with them to fit how they make decisions – and as a result, reduce your frustration when it doesn’t all happen right away.