«I work in the kitchen in a big restaurant. The business is very hectic. In the team I am the only one who doesn't smoke, smoke pot and drink alcohol. My father was an alcoholic, I don't want to lose control and end up like him.
My colleagues at work tease me about my attitude and constantly offer me cigarettes, cannabis and alcoholic drinks. They say it makes up for the pressure and stress.
I can hardly defend myself. Do you have any advice on how I can convince my colleagues?»
This is how member Noah Z. describes his situation at work. His question shows: It is not only sales staff who have to convince people, but all of us in our everyday work. Behavioural patterns that make salespeople or managers successful help us to do this.
What are strong arguments?
Noah has two strong arguments why he doesn't want to use addictive substances: he wants to stay in control and he doesn't want to become addicted like his father. That should be obvious to his colleagues at work! Why can't he convince them?
Few but important arguments
Noah might be tempted to look for more arguments to make his point. However, that would do him no good. It is better for him to use two or three relevant and important arguments correctly than to run over the other person with a whole bouquet. Because this comes across as arbitrary and unconvincing.
Making arguments clear
It is important for Noah that his colleagues can understand his attitude. He convinces them when they realise that his rejection is not meant in an unkind way, but has to do with his negative experiences with alcohol.
Noah can explain that he is uncomfortable losing control. He can back up his fear of addiction with the vivid example of his alcoholic father.
Noah can also think about what counter-arguments his colleagues at work might bring up and how he can counter them. For example, if they say to an offered glass of whisky «why don't you relieve some stress?», Noah can reply: «Thanks, but I'd rather not. I'm more stressed by the possible consequences of drinking than by the work.»
Asking questions and responding to the other side
Noah is sure to encounter accusations of being a buzzkill in his situation. He should take this seriously. If his colleagues have this image of him, he risks being ostracised.
It is worthwhile for Noah to ask why his colleagues think this and what they expect from him. In this way, he finds out exactly what they think. The more he listens to their arguments, the better he will be able to convince them that he can have fun without using addictive substances.
Arguments can be very rational and still not convincing. We humans react much more to emotions than to cool reason. Noah can make use of this by, for example, pointing out the fears that the use of addictive substances trigger in him - and appealing to the fears of his colleagues, which they certainly also have about certain things.
Body language is part of it
You may have heard that what we say is only 7% of communication. 55% is communicated through body language (including gestures, facial expressions and clothing) and 38% through voice.
These figures are now being questioned by scientists. Nevertheless, it is assumed that body language and voice play an important role in the success of communication. Noah is therefore well advised to pay attention to the signals he sends with his body. They should not contradict what he is saying. If Noah refuses an offered joint in a low voice and stares at the floor, he will not look very convincing.