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Have you ever emerged from a negotiation with the sinking feeling that you were out-negotiated and gave away the store? Perhaps you asked for a raise or requested a specific work assignment but retreated in defeat.
In these situations and in hundreds of other life encounters both at home and at work, knowing how to persuade others to follow the course you wish them to take is of inestimable value.
Few of the strategies found in ancient Jewish wisdom are more useful than knowing how to persuade others by means of our God-given gift of speech.
In the Book of Genesis we encounter three important principles of persuasion.
(i) Talk with not at.
(ii) Be 100% transparent.
(iii) Timing is everything.
From Genesis chapter 35 through the end of the book we see that Jacob’s first born son Reuben’s influence fades while the fourth son, Judah, rises as the brothers’ leader. How does he do it?
In Genesis 37:20-23, ten of Joseph’s brothers deeply resent him and plan to kill him. The oldest son, Reuben, urges them to throw him alive into a pit where he’ll die on his own. Secretly, Reuben plans on returning to retrieve him and return him safely to their father.
Thus we see the first difference between Reuben’s ineffective and
(ii) Reuben tried fooling his brothers by suggesting that they achieve their goal of executing Joseph by throwing him into a pit while secretly intending to save Joseph. This contrasts with the second principle of Persuasion Powerä — total transparency. Duplicity in negotiation or persuasion is usually detected. At the very least, it creates discomfort even if the other party doesn’t know exactly why he is uneasy.
(iii) Finally, in chapter 42 while trying to persuade his father, Jacob, to let Benjamin accompany the brothers back to
Judah, understanding the importance of timing, waits until the famine is severe and Jacob himself suggests the brothers return to Egypt (Genesis 43:1-2) Now Jacob is receptive to Judah’s insistence upon taking Benjamin back.
One of the most fascinating characters in Scripture, these chapters reveal a Judah who errs, sins, accepts responsibility for his actions and grows into a leader among his brothers. In contrast, Reuben fades into the background.
But all along,