Persuasion is the name of the big game in organizations. Safety professionals' effectiveness can ultimately depend on their ability to persuade others. This can encompass influencing senior management to actively fund and support new initiatives, inducing mid-managers and supervisors to visibly lead safety, motivating line staff to look ahead to protect themselves and others, encouraging everyone to actively use safety methods, showing other departments how they might align with the safety message, eliciting approval from unions, helping resistant people to change - all with minimal pushback.

First and foremost, premier safety professionals are agents of change. Raising an organization to the highest level of safety entails getting and maintaining others' attention and motivating them to change. Many people are under continuous pressure to work harder and faster. They would prefer to continue doing the same things in the same ways they always have as much as they can. In contrast, a prime directive of high level safety professionals is helping everyone think before they act, see potential hazards and future consequences, work as a team. Accomplishing this in these pressured times requires thinking and acting strategically and efficiently.

But the ability to induce others to consider and adopt new behaviors is a skill that has to be carefully cultivated. They are not "natural" to most people and usually don't magically appear along with accrual of technical knowledge.

"May you live in interesting times" is a purported Chinese curse. Nowadays, most professionals seek to fulfill their mission within an "interesting" atmosphere - an era of tight funding and 306° competition for dollars. Striving to get the attention of everyone from executives to mid-managers to line staff - within a climate of multiple distracters.

In these challenging times, not all communication opportunities are created equal. Highest leverage persuasion points are group presentations or conferences where the safety initiative (and you) are on display, individual meetings with key staff, program promote safety detonate or fizzle.

But with a practical strategic approach and strong skills, safety professionals can increase their persuasion productivity. There are many methods and examples of persuasion and ways to boost organizational safety receptivity, behaviors and culture. In this brief article, I'll focus on overview principles you might use to heighten your persuasive powers whether communicating "up." "down" or "sideways."

Persuading Persuasiveness

Most safety professionals have more on their plates than they can readily accomplish. Why bother spending time attempting to influence others? Especially when you're dealing with hardheaded managers, know-it-all union leaders, cynical supervisors and who-cares employees? Because these people, while perhaps difficult to reach, are the key to changing how people see and act. Working through them saves time and helps us accomplish our mission. And, the good news is, experience shows it is possible to turn around even the most resistant, the overwhelmed and the skeptical towards a safety life- and work-style.

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