Thursday, 13 November 2014

The power of persuasion

The Guardian have a quiz on their website designed to guide you as to "What job would make you the happiest?". I'm a sucker for online quizzes and so I gave it a go.

It's no surprise that I scored 20/20 for "Hands on" jobs and almost full points for organsing and creative-y work preferences.

One of the questions reads:

I get a buzz out of...

Persuading somebody to accept an idea or an argument:
  • No interest 
  • Mild interest 
  • Some interest 
  • Definite preference 
  • Strong preference
I was thinking about this quiz today as I spent the morning visiting schools in the Kensington-Bedfordview-Edenvale area - we're setting up a new Orienteering Schools League in this area for next year. I've already reached out to schools where I have contacts for teachers; today's visits were for those where I don't know anyone (and I still have more to do next week).

I had a warm reception from most schools, especially when I got to speak to the relevant sports coordinator. 

The challenge was getting past the receptionist...

At one school, the receptionist was actually quite friendly and presentable but she was also determined to get across that they have absolutely no need of orienteering - or any additional sports, for that matter. They have a well-paid and highly-qualified sports coaches for each of their sports...

I told her that we (the Orienteering Federation) were letting schools in the area know about a teacher workshop coming up, the league for next year and that orienteering, as a sport, actually existed. It's a good fit with athletics and cross-country (and geography!). I told her all we wanted was for her to pass the note on to the relevant sports coordinator. She conceded and I'm certain that had I not extracted the sports guy's name and email address from her that she would have just dumped the note in the bin as soon as I was out of the door.

I'm not always good at persuading people to do things - it depends what I persuading them to do - and generally I don't like having to be convincing. My interactions today with teachers and sports heads and receptionists got me thinking about the quiz because persuasive is exactly what I needed to be. 

In answering this quiz yesterday, my answer to this question had been "No interest". I just hope that my few minutes with them and the concise information that I put together will speak for this sport that I so enjoy.

As the adminstrator for AR Club, I get a lot of notices about cycle races and run races. Also dozens of requests from charity organisations asking for cyclists (for Argus and 94.7) to ride in their colours and raise funds. If I passed all of these on to my club members, they'd be totally irritated - so I only pass on those that are most relevant to my members. I'm the filter. And this can be where information hits a dead end. But, there just too much of it.

I can totally see why the receptionist expressed a lack of interest and intention to pass my note about this small and obscure sport - that she definitely doesn't know a thing about - on to a relevant teacher. Their school offers dozens of sports, for which they employ coaches, and their timetable is chock-a-block full... But it also means that a low-admin, low-equipment, cerebral, individual sport will never see the light of day there. Fortunately I did get the guy's email and I've reached out - primarily because the school property will be fabulous to map for school or club urban events.

I'm very excited about this new League, which will run on a totally different format to the existing League and standard events. I just hope I can be sufficiently persuading to get some new schools involved.

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