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How to persuade – by understanding “the ball”

It’s all about the ball!

Has this happened to you?

You are enjoying a beautiful day with your family in a park. You’ve got the bright colourful, picnic blanket spread out on the green grass – then someone else’s boy comes running in on top of you – knocking everything over!!

The boy is trying to catch a ball kicked by another boy . He doesn’t mean to upset your day. He is just totally focussed on getting that ball.

That’s the way boys are – they often don’t see anything else except that ball.

Remember: It’s all about the ball!

rugby balls

That’s why in the movies – a ball bounces out on the street and you just know – a kid will run after it  oblivious to the  dangerous traffic.

C + T park MP

Anyway, the ball (and the boy in pursuit) narrowly missed my daughter and  I am VERY protective of my daughter.

I  could have just got angry at the boys – but I understood their limited perception (from my own experience as a kid)

I tried a  different approach – a different persuasion technique and it worked!.

I could have just yelled at the kids to get away – and they probably would have moved to another part of the park and do the same thing to another family.

Here’s what I did. I understood that they were only interested in getting that ball.

First of all – I remembered what it was like when I was their age. I remembered how at a picnic I had kicked a ball – it hit a little kid and a father took our ball from us. I got in so much trouble from my parents too!

I calmly said to both boys – the kicker and the catcher.

“You’ve got good hands – but to be really good you’ve got to have good eyes too. Take a quick look where the ball is going to see if anyone or anything is in your way. There’s lots of little kids and mums around here that you could run into.

And just be careful with the families. When I was your age kicking a ball around, I accidentally hit a little kid with my ball and the dad got angry and  took the ball off me. You don’t want to have your ball taken away – so try to keep away from the families.”

Queensland  has just won the latest State of Origin game – so we had a very quick chat about how good the game was and how Billy Slater was such a good player. He’s one of my league favourites. I said to the boys how Billy has good, safe hands – and great eyes too – and great skills with the ball.


(I call Slater the Wayne Gretzky of league. Gretzky  (famous ice hockey player) was famous for skating to where the puck was going to be. Slater is often where the ball is going to be.) But I digress – don’t get me started talking about Slater!

Anyway, I watched what happened next. I saw how the boys were more cautious in where they were kicking the ball.  They were more aware of their impact on others in the park – for fear of losing the ball.

I could also see the boys talking a quick glance of where they would be running to – instead of always just looking up in the sky with their eyes on the ball.

The boys weren’t a problem for me – and they didn’t seem to be a problem for other families.

I think the tactic worked  – because I didn’t make it about what I wanted (the boys to go kick theball somewhere else or at least be careful around my kids and picnic blanket!)

I made it about the ball. How they could do better with the ball. How they could make sure they didn’t lose the ball.

It’s all about the ball!


O.K.  nice warm and fuzzy, feel-good story – how do you apply it in the business world?

You are trying to persuade people for business.

1. What is “their ball”? – what are they focussed on?

2. Base your messages on “their ball” – “build on the ball”.

They don’t care about other stuff that may be important to you. They care about their ball!


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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.


tony biancotti


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One comment on “How to persuade – by understanding “the ball”

  1. Pingback: How to get “action kids” to take time to improve their handwriting | busy dad to better dad

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