Quality Bits

The Art of Persuasion with Thomas Shipley

February 20, 2024 Lina Zubyte Season 2 Episode 13
Quality Bits
The Art of Persuasion with Thomas Shipley
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever been in a situation where you're trying to make a point to someone and as much as you try to phrase it differently, it just does not go through? On the other side, have you ever had someone approach you and despite you first having the opposing point of view, they quickly convince you otherwise? Those are the persuasion skills in action. 

After hearing Thomas Shipley's talk on persuasion, Lina talks to him about it in this episode. Tune in to learn more about 3 Ps of persuasion, in which situations you could benefit from those skills, and why it matters overall. 

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00:00:05 Lina Zubyte 

Hi everyone, welcome to Quality Bits - a podcast about building high quality products and teams. I'm your host, Lina Zubyte. In this episode, I'm talking to Thomas Shipley. It's such a light and fun conversation where not only you're going to learn more about persuasion... Out of all things, we even talk a little bit about... cheese. I hope you enjoy this conversation. 


Hello, Thomas. Welcome to Quality Bits. 

00:00:48 Thomas Shipley 

Hey, thank you. 

00:00:49 Lina Zubyte 

How would you describe yourself? Who are you? 

00:00:53 Thomas Shipley 

My job title is really confusing, so I am currently Specialist Capability Lead for Test at Global Logic. That's the internal title, but no one really knows what that means. So I've in the past described myself as a Head of Test. But actually while I do look after the testing team I spend a lot of my time doing kind of more hands off stuff, so I manage the team, but I also do a lot of time working on things with sales and pre sales activities and coming up with service offerings, commercials, all that sort of stuff. So at the moment I'm saying I'm an engineering manager, it might change next week. We'll see. 

00:01:31 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, titles are interesting, especially working with QA where you can have all kinds of different areas that you dip your toes in. Even in the few last episodes... I was talking to Elisabeth Hendrickson and she said that Head of Quality can be even a harmful title sometimes, because it's almost like everything, but also almost nothing. And then you're confused, what's going on? 

00:01:56 Thomas Shipley 

It's a strange title. If you then decide that maybe you wanna become more generalist and move away from the quality of the arena into something maybe more engineering focused... Yeah, definitely. I think it's a tricky title to have. 

00:02:11 Lina Zubyte 

So I met you at a conference where you were talking about persuasion. I could not attend your talk because it was at the same time as mine, which is unfortunate, but I watched it online afterwards. Still, I found it, and the title is: “Moving cheese: The art of persuasion for testers”. When I hear this title, I'm thinking of a book “Who moved my cheese?” Is it the inspiration for this title or is it something else? 

00:02:41 Thomas Shipley 

Finally, someone has understood! What I'm hinting at with the title... Yes, absolutely. So it's you. And one of my lecturers from Uni... are the only two people who have ever picked up on this. So yeah, it's a book called “Who moved my cheese?“ And the book is really all about motivation. What motivates people, as you know, because you know of the book, to do what they do and why they perhaps resist change. So when I was originally putting the talk together, I had this idea that I probably would lean on the ideas in the book more. But in the end, I kind of didn’t. It was only really hinted at a very brief bit of the talk, and sometimes I even forget to mention the reference. So, I've still kept it there, even though Marie Cruz of Grafana fame, as she reviewed my abstracts before submitting, and she suggested I just drop the moving cheese bit because no one will know what it is, but I kept it anyway, if only because I find the book interesting. 

00:03:42 Lina Zubyte 

Have you ever had the cheese enthusiasts get disappointed with your talk? 

00:03:46 Thomas Shipley 

I have yes. Right. So I have had someone be disappointed by the lack of cheese. So at EuroSTAR, I got my feedback and it was all very nice and positive. One or two things that I could improve on. But on the whole, it was lovely feedback and I was really pleased. But one piece of feedback really made me laugh because it was clearly meant as a joke. They said: “Great talk, lots of great tips, but disappointed by the lack of actual cheese.” So I was giving the talk again at Ministry of Testing’s Test Bash in the UK. I at the very last minute changed my slides to add a slide at the very beginning to say look, I take feedback very seriously. Yeah? And this person was upset by the lack of cheese. And, you know, I wanna make that right. And so while on the stage giving the talk said all of that and then... pulled a bag which had, like Babybels and mini wrapped cheeses in it that I got from the shop an hour before and I just started throwing them at people who wanted cheese. It was good fun. And then there was also like, you know, those fairground machines where it's like a claw and you go down you get a prize? 

00:04:51 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, I was addicted to those. 

00:04:53 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, so they have that, like testing prizes, and I managed to convince the volunteers to set one up where it was full of some of the spare cheese and someone did actually win it before it went all, you know, too warm and horrible. So yeah, that was good fun. 

00:05:08 Lina Zubyte 

Amazing. That's really nice that you listened to the feedback. I recently saw a video where someone was asking a French person who knows a lot about cheese, which cheese they would prefer and they listed like 20 different kinds of cheese. And I was like, Oh my gosh, I don't even know which cheeses those are. And then they had to choose what is your favourite cheese, would you have one? 

00:05:33 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, easy. So I'm English, so we don't. Well, I suppose we do have lots of cheeses. I shouldn't be so bad about my countrymen, but for me, I'm a traitor. I really like brie. But you do get like Cornish brie. So I have that and then my wife pretty much eats that garlic cheese Boursin. Well, she eats that exclusively. She doesn't seem to eat any other type of cheese. It's just that on water crackers. 

00:05:59 Lina Zubyte 

Nice. That is the fact that you could add in your talk. 

00:06:03 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, maybe, maybe, you know, continue to rate and improve on that feedback, you know, make make the talk really just about cheese. 

00:06:09 Lina Zubyte 

Or make it very cheesy! 

00:06:11 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Just make it a load of puns. That's not a bad idea, actually. I could come back next season with an updated version. That's just jokes. 

00:06:20 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah. So talking about persuasion, what is persuasion? How is it different from something like influencing as well? Is there a difference between those? 

00:06:33 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah. So I think the lines between those two things are really blurred, but generally the way I think about it and I'm not an expert on persuasion. It's something that I've practised and I've learned because I wasn't very good at it. Which is why the talk and and I've improved, but... From my perspective, I think persuasion is the broad umbrella of all the different things you can do in order to basically get what you want. To make people think the way you think, support your ideas, whatever it is. 


Influence is one tool within that box and for me influence is kind of what happens when you're not in the room. So can you persuade people when you're not even there? So you've probably worked people I've worked with, people who are really known for their skill and their ability and they give great advice and they perhaps have certain foundations that they follow when they work on projects. And teams will then go away and do things, and if someone starts to suggest ideas that perhaps go against the grain of what that person would advise, sometimes that team will self correct to what that person would want them to do. That for me is influence. They're being persuaded by someone who's not even there. 

00:07:46 Lina Zubyte 

It is reminding me of the example of... I don't know if it's a fictional example. There are some stories about Steve Jobs which are fictional, but someone said that each time you're a leader, someone is looking up to you even though they don't say something and you affect the way they behave. That apparently in Apple they wanted to design a bus for some kind of trip and what they did is they went to Steve Jobs's car and just checked the interior to see, like, what he has. I also realised that likely I say persuasion wrongly.... such a difficult word. Actually it's like you have to persuade people to say persuasion correctly. 

00:08:33 Thomas Shipley 

It's also really hard to say correctly, even as a native speaker, when you are like in front of people, perhaps you're a bit nervous. Maybe it's your first time doing the talk and you're having to rattle through to a timeline, and you're saying these sort of long and complicated words. That's why, coincidentally, someone once asked me a talk. They said it's not a question about the content, but I have typically characters in my talks and they're like, why are all your characters got three letter names like Tom, Bob, Sue and it's because it's easier to say that's literally the only reason easier to pronounce in case I'm a bit nervous because it's typically at the start of the talk. 

00:09:09 Lina Zubyte 

So why did you decide to talk about this topic? Is there a particular thing that happened in your life or career that you were like? OK, this is interesting because for me, it's a very personal thing. Usually the talk ideas come from experience. You're somewhere, and you're like, hmmm, this is something I want to talk about. Why did you decide to talk about persuasion? Wow, I may have said it correctly. 

00:09:31 Thomas Shipley 

Good. It's going well. I think there's probably 2 reasons that I would think about it. The 1st is and this is gonna sound like a criticism of the wider conference and kind of like blogosphere of the testing / quality community. And I don't mean it that way. Lots of love for the community. However, we tend to kind of talk about the same things on loop. So we talk about like test metrics or we talk about maybe getting others to test and so on. And a lot of the talks tend to repeat themselves in a cycle. If you go say to one of the big testing conferences like EuroSTAR, there'll be certain topics that come up year after year just with a different person talking about it, which is not a bad thing. It's a different perspective. That's good.  


What I didn't see in the community was anyone really talking about how to persuade others which is something we always do all the time, both in and out of work. There are some people that do talks on like what they call, I guess, soft skills, even though that's a terrible term, but not that many. So that was the reason one I thought it was a gap that should be filled. I think the second reason is that not only is it a gap that the community doesn't talk about, it's also something that I think the community desperately needs. We so often are working in teams and I hear it all the time. It's like the most common question I hear talks I do and talks I attend with others. It's nearly always asked how do I convince my team to do this? Or how do I get buy in or whatever way they phrase it? 


No one's answering that question, so that's I did the talk. It's one of those weird talks where it took me maybe 10 minutes to write the abstract: first draft and done, it was a straight out and I was really pleased with it and I got it reviewed by friends and it was all good. But then the actual talk itself was super hard. It took it ages to actually create the talk because there are things that I do and that I've learned to do over the years of experience. But I've never formally thought about them. 

00:11:28 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, I think that talking about some kind of philosophy or mindset or stereotypes even of testers very often. I remember reading a book at the start of my career. I was learning a lot about testing and I was reading some book and it said: “Testers don't win popularity contests”. And I somehow like really could resonate with it at that point because I would be raising a bug and then I was like talking to this development manager. And he said this is sad that, you know, we got this bug and I was like, you know what if I don't find a bug, you're disappointed. If I find a bug, you're also disappointed. I never can win the popularity contest. And I think it's an easy trap to fall into, especially when you're starting because you're like, oh, I'm reporting these things. And recently also wrote an article about how to get your bug fixed, because I think we all could do much better. We can communicate much better and make an impact actually. So I don't really believe in this anymore. 


I don't believe that testers don't win popularity contests. I mean there shouldn't be contest overall it should be like a part of the team. But you also shouldn't be like persona non grata or like oh, no, like someone walked into the room - the air is out, you know, and then you're like, oh no, the bugs are coming in. 

00:12:46 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, absolutely. And again, this is why I was really keen to do the talk because so often QAs in the team I feel kind of almost ground down because they are perhaps saying unpopular things within that team and they don't know how perhaps to change the narrative. So that it becomes a bit less painful to hear and I think actually one of the things I talk about both in the talk and also the associated workshop about persuading others is framing. So OK, you have that bug, you've gone to that engineering manager. It's so sad we found this bug That's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is to say it's such a great thing that we find this bug that now won't impact our customers and clients. So we should celebrate this. It's that mindset shift. 

00:13:36 Lina Zubyte 

Absolutely. And it's, I think, a little bit a tough mission especially having a role like this where you're sort of a bearer of bad news. But there may be actually good news because we found it earlier to also see the mindset that, hey, it's OK and it's like we shouldn't be so afraid of feedback. An information. Because I think we're sometimes afraid of hearing bad news or... something like, in my work, is not as I expected it to be, and it's a role where I think communication is extremely important. You cannot get away without that skill. You really have to be like people, say team glue. I really like this definition, always that QA for me is a team glue and it is the person that sometimes builds bridges between different roles trying to help them communicate with each other. 

00:14:29 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, definitely. Team glue, I really like, and I'm definitely gonna steal it.  

00:14:39 Lina Zubyte 

It's not mine. 

00:14:40 Thomas Shipley 

We're both gonna steal it. And I think the one that I sometimes use as well, this idea of a quality shepherd, you know, you're not in charge of quality. You can't influence quality all that much. But you can kind of encourage and nudge people in the right direction. And that's kind of what you do is you bring people together. I really believe that the best QAs and those working in the QA sphere are exactly that the people with really great communication skills. But so often we focus on, I don't know. It might be exploratory testing techniques or we focus on automated techniques, hard skills but hard skills actually don't make projects in my experience of success. It's the things in between. 

00:15:14 Lina Zubyte 

Why is it important or why does it matter for us to work on persuasion skills? In what situations would you apply it, for example? 

00:15:23 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah. So I think the reason it matters is because you do it all the time. Everyone persuades people all the time, every day in various different contexts. If you don't think that's true, then I would suggest that perhaps you're not doing a good job of it because you're not mindful of when it's happening. So, for example, it might be just speaking with a friend or a partner about what you want for dinner, right? And maybe you really want a particular thing the other person wants something else. Well, that's persuasion in action. You might not care that much about the outcome, but that is persuasion happening right there. Where as saying work, it's the same thing.  


So, I used to work in the team where we had the ready for test column and one of my other talks is about how the ready for test column is absolute trash. We should get rid of it. It's terrible and it just sets the wrong precedent and attitudes within the team and that was absolutely persuasion to work with a team of really sceptical people who have always had a ready for test column. For them, in every project they've ever worked in. To persuade them that they can let go of it as an experiment, and then actually persuade them, look at the data. Look how nothing's really changed. If anything, quality has improved. So yeah, it's all the time. And as I say, if you aren't aware of it, then maybe you're not being mindful that it's happening and it's something you should practise. 

00:16:49 Lina Zubyte 

So you said you had to think a little bit more when you were preparing the talk to formalise your thoughts. So what have you formalised? Are there some strategies that you would suggest and advise to be more persuasive? 

00:17:04 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, absolutely. So I have a terrible working memory, so I'm dyslexic and my sort of short term memory is shot. So I use lots of different techniques in order to help with that. And one of the things I love is having either mnemonics or some sort of a little phrase that helps me remember things so I know I always do it in talks and workshops for people attend. So for this one I created the idea of the three Ps of persuasion. So it's your people, it's personality and plan. And I think I got them in the wrong order. But if we start with personality. 


Personality is all about you and how you persuade others. How you’re seen by others, and how do you approach others. And then you have people. So you can think about people in the talk. I talk about people from the perspective of the person your persuading. What do they want to achieve? But actually it can be broader than that. What do they want to achieve? But also, what do you want to achieve and how do you meet in the middle? And then finally plan. Salespeople and other types of roles within the industry and outside the industry, they never go into a sales meeting with no plan. They have an idea of what they're going to talk about and they have a pitch and they're going to position it in such a way to make it more persuasive. So coming up with a plan that draws that all together so you have a more deliberate approach as you start to go into a conversation with someone. 

00:18:27 Lina Zubyte 

Could you give an example where you would apply it? 

00:18:31 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, sure. So if we go back to that “Ready for test” column. One of the things that I talk about in the talk is this idea of stakeholder mapping, so it's not a new idea. It's not my idea. It’s donkeys old, but the one that I talk about is knowing in particular your promoters and your supporters. So who are the people with... We spoke about influence. Who are the people with lots of influence in the team over the people you're looking to persuade? So maybe it might be the engineering manager and maybe it might be a really well respected engineer or a head of delivery. Whoever it is. And importantly, those are the people with lots of interest in what you're doing, as well as influence. So they're really helpful. They're gonna help you persuade others, and then also your supporters, people who perhaps aren't so influential, but they're really interested in the idea and leveraging that. So I really think for technical teams, particularly if it's maybe a change like the ready for test column or something technical starting with a grassroots approach of identifying those promoters and supporters, building little proof of concepts or experiments to prove the idea, and then showcasing it and building success that way is a really good approach. 

00:19:43 Lina Zubyte 

And you also mentioned personality, which I guess here it would be thinking about a person's intrinsic motivation, right, or what matters for them. 

00:19:54 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah. So I think personality is a really interesting one. And the way I pitch it in the talk is about your personal approach. And for me, what that really means is a few things. The one about active listening, it's kind of a bit manipulative, but in a good way. So if you actively listen to someone not only do they feel nice and warm and they feel like they've listened to and valuable, and that's all good stuff, cause that'll make them like you which will help. You also gather information about what they think, and you can start to use that information in order to adjust your approach. So I think, active listening, definitely. The other one is about being positive. I've seen it time and time again, not just QAs. Lots of people. When they try and persuade someone, they go in with that sort of defeatist attitude. Because maybe they've had a confidence knock or whatever it is. 

00:20:43 Lina Zubyte 

They're ready to fight! 

00:20:44 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, and they don't think they can win. And so I when I gave the talk at Testing Portugal, I sort of gave the example of the kind of mumbling QA who was kind of like... Please call me. No one can hear you. Speak up, be positive and have some self belief. Cause persuasion doesn't happen on the first go. In my experience quite often it takes a couple of goes, so a little persistence and then the other one finally is credibility. So thinking about what makes you credible? As an individual to the person you're persuading, are you known as an expert? Are you friends? Do you have some information maybe? Those sorts of things. 

00:21:20 Lina Zubyte 

I think it's really important for ourselves also to be somehow reflective and open for other opinions when we do persuasion, because it could be that my idea that I truly believe, and maybe it it has some gaps there. And there may be reasons why others are not doing it. So the way we even try to persuade, it should be sort of an open mind to hear others and say OK, like maybe... It's not the best idea here and it's information for us. 

00:21:51 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, definitely. I think one of the one of the questions I had at EuroSTAR was on similar lines, I can't remember the exact question, so apologies if someone hears this and they're like I asked that question and he butchered it, but it was a question around that of well, do you change? And the answer is absolutely, I think successful persuasion is related to successful negotiation and basically in both instances it's about meeting in the middle: you influence and change their perspective, but at the same time, by going through that process, your own perspective changes and as a result the most successful outcome in most cases that I've seen is actually where both people have had their perspective changed and they've come to together as something new. 

00:22:36 Lina Zubyte 

It reminds me of conflict resolution 101, which is that both people come with their intention or their overall goal or what they're trying to achieve, right? We try to work well. And that is our eventual goal. And then where did we lose this? Where did before we get this about each other, right? So it's like finding something in common and then building from there and understanding that the other person also is doing the best job they can. And I am as well with the information I have at hand, right? And then whatever we're trying to achieve, having it always in mind that the information they have is also very valuable for us. 

00:23:17 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, absolutely. And respecting the other person. So I'm studying at the moment for my MBA, which sometimes I wonder why I'm doing it, but one of the modules I recently completed was about organisational culture and there was a theory in there which is really relevant to this conversation about hybridity. So it's this idea of hybridity that cultures, particularly in a workplace, shouldn't be dominated by one culture or the other. In fact, the best, most successful organisational cultures are where they meld together and they create something new, a third space and it's exact same thing when it comes to persuading others. 

00:23:52 Lina Zubyte 

Are there any instances though where you could think it becomes sort of like manipulation? Or if someone is very good at persuading others they could influence too much and then maybe even do some harm? 

00:24:08 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, absolutely. So I think generally speaking, you can't persuade people against their best interests. Some people can very, very successful people, at persuading others. But a lot of them tend to go on to form cults, right. So we're probably not gonna sort of encounter these people, but I think it can become a problem, I think. The more you practise and the better you get at it, the more mindful you have to be about when you apply it. So for me, I have practised a lot. 


I'm not perfect, so there's still things that I'm not very good at. For example, salary negotiation. I suck at salary negotiation thanks to imposter syndrome that normally raises its head, but in those situations when you've improved to that point, you have to try and hold back and realise, OK, what are the things I really want this team or individual to be able to come with me on and what are the things I can maybe sort of not worry about it too much and it can go either way? Particularly for me for my personality type as well, it doesn't help. I'm quite chatty. I talk too much. As you probably started to realise. So I have to occasionally try and be quiet and let others have a chance. 

00:25:19 Lina Zubyte 

I think it gives a very good point of some kind of power dynamics. And I could see this even in the outspokenness of people or how you put your thoughts together because in some parts I may catch, for example, talking to someone and then I'm sort of feeling that, you know, I'm like, outsmarting them, but it's not, you know, intentional and it's not that I'm some kind of, you know, genius or something, but maybe it's easier for me to express certain things than it is for them. But then I find myself feeling very careful somehow, because I want to give them space to express what they are thinking as well. But I know it comes very different than. Then it comes to me, so I feel like good skills of communication overall is making us to be a little bit more responsible and accountable because not everyone has the same skills and we have to understand it and it's like with great power comes great responsibility. 

00:26:23 Thomas Shipley 

Absolutely. I think you know, as a bit of a tenuous metaphor because I love tenuous metaphors... If you were a race car driver, a really successful race car driver, you don't go around the track with your foot on the accelerator the entire time at every corner, every straight, just foot on the accelerator cause you’ll crash. It won't work. You have to apply that ability sensibly and in the right places at the right moment. And it's the same with persuading others. 


Because you can't win every battle because then it doesn't become a team, it becomes a you with followers, your cult. And I think actually for leaders in particular, I think that can be a real danger. We talked about influence and being able to persuade people when you're not even in the room, if a leader gets to the point where they are always winning every conversation, if you like, not that it's about winning. But if we look at it that way and they're always winning every persuasive argument. Then it becomes really just about what they want, and they're not always gonna be right. That only works if the leader is 100% right all of the time and it's rare for that to be the case. 

00:27:27 Lina Zubyte 

So talking about picking our battles and fights, what do you think are the areas where almost everyone could benefit becoming better at persuasion? What are the fights worth fighting? 

00:27:41 Thomas Shipley 

I think this obviously depends on your personal context and what you're hoping to achieve, and the rest of it, but I think there's certain things that across the industry that we experience. So for one, I've already mentioned it, but things like the ready for test column and having that whole team quality ownership, we've spoken about it as a community for a long time. 


I wasn't the first person. As I said at the start, it wasn't a criticism of others, but we recycled topics I wasn't the first person to have a topic about the ready test column and I won't be the last, so it keeps coming back because we perhaps are struggling to show the wider team the value of having that whole ownership. So definitely working on persuasive skills for that context. And then I think there's others as well. So for example, QAs in my experience, although I think, it's starting to change... Haven't always been as valued as their other counterparts within the team. 


Say product team, so maybe they have a lower salary, they have lower benefits or they're expected to work later. All these sorts of things. So using that to defend and sort of improve your working life, absolutely, stuff like that. And then I think as well the other way, it can be really helpful in the way that you're applying it. And the way that I apply it: speaking at events and getting your name out there, that's not for everybody. But if you want to help kind of develop your communication skill, then doing those sorts of things are good. But you need to persuade others that you've got some to say. 

00:29:10 Lina Zubyte 

I also think again, for me personally, it's getting back to my own wants and what kind of message do I want to give as well because yeah, this is like the dangerous slope. Like, I could have like bad influence or effect. But I maybe want you to do a good change and in team context, personally, I would try to imagine the team’s well-being. So, for example, ready for test, what kind of value does it add right? And then we notice again and again that it actually hinders us or makes us slower. And more I’d like to persuade the team to actually think of that perspective, even though we're so used to certain ways of work. But it could help us, not me, personally, right? So this is again, like getting to what they want and their motivation. 

00:30:06 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, and you can flip it on its head as well. And I'd be lying if this wasn't true, but a response to say, getting rid of ready for test is to say, well, you, tester, you just don't want to do testing work. You want to be doing these other interesting things and you’re just a bit lazy, right? It could be a response if we talk about framing again and certainly in my example I would be lying if I said there wasn't a grain of truth to that. I hated being the person who had to do the like the quality police role of checking every single thing. I hate that. It sucks. It's boring. 

00:30:41 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, it's such a huge responsibility. You're like, what? I'm the gatekeeper. The stamp of approval. 

00:30:47 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, exactly. Because when it inevitably fails. Ohh why didn't you catch that bug? My wife works in the QA industry as well. And she's had that exact thing said to her from her manager, why didn't you and your team catch that bug? Why did the developers let that bug get into their code? If we want to go down that route. 

00:31:06 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, exactly. I think also again, this persuasion somehow can humble us and it can make us very vulnerable because you already are sort of putting energy to persuade someone for something, so you have to have your like motivation in check because people could say the opposite things. 

00:31:30 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, absolutely. And it can also hurt your ego. So one of the things that I've spoken about previously with my teams and with the direct peers I work with is that, you know, I have an ego like anybody else, people in the commercial world who turn around and say, ohh, I'm an egoless leader or whatever. They're lying. We all have an ego, and when you persuade others, sometimes it doesn't work out. And if you're new to it in particular, that can hurt. It hurts yourself because you're like, why don't we like my ideas? Why don't they think it's great? And you have to try and work on that. 

00:32:05 Lina Zubyte 

Maybe it's not always persuasion that happens. Sometimes it's just like arrogance. A lot of us may have worked with someone who, just like, drops their idea, right? The end. That's like the law, you know, and nobody can actually comment on it. And I guess a good persuasion skillset would be also to have it in mind that you will be questioned likely and it's OK. And that's your point as well that you're not God. You're not giving certain laws from the sky. 

00:32:34 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, definitely. I mean, one of the things I talk about in the talk is this idea of compliance versus buy-in. And if you're the type of leader who relies on their formal role, if you like, to say this is how we're gonna do things. Why? Because I'm in charge, so do it, right? People will do it. They don't wanna get in trouble, right? So they'll do it, but they're not bought into it. They don't believe in your idea or your approach. They're just doing it for an easy life. And that means they'll only contribute to the level they need to in order for you to go away. Whereas if you are good at persuading others, you don't need to rely on that so much and you can actually get people to buy into your ideas. And that means they'll contribute beyond the minimum, because actually they really think it's a good idea. 

00:33:19 Lina Zubyte 

So if a person wanted to learn more about persuasion, are there any resources that you would recommend? Books? Courses? 

00:33:28 Thomas Shipley 

Yeah, I mean, there's loads of stuff out there and I'm really just scratching the surface myself. So there's one I've not read yet, but it's on my list and everyone talks about it, so it's “Thinking fast and slow”, so that book is a classic and talks about sort of system one brain versus system 2. The logical versus the emotional and how ultimately we're emotional beings. We should focus on persuading, using emotion, which I think is an interesting idea. I need to read the book. Thank you for reminding me. Then the other one that I'm currently reading is called “Never split the difference” by an ex FBI hostage negotiator. 


And it's a really interesting book because every chapter is a story of when he was negotiating with the bad guys. But then he brings in the principles that he applied and that sort of thing. So that's a great book. And then, of course, “Who moved my cheese?” I think it's not a book about persuasion as such. It's a book about motivation. But of course, motivation and understanding that it's part of persuasion. So they're probably the three books I would go for. I also have some stuff on my own website, https://tomdriven.dev/  

00:34:37 Lina Zubyte 

Yeah, definitely we can add it to the episode notes as well as the link to the talk about persuasion that you did. So to wrap up this conversation and the topics we've touched on here today, what is the one piece of advice you would give for building high quality products and teams? 

00:34:57 Thomas Shipley 

Ohh, that's really hard. Ultimately it's about two things. It's about having the right people in that team, so hiring is super, super important and getting it right and so put loads of effort into hiring. If you're the type of person that's involved in either leading or involved in the interview rounds for hiring. And then I think the other thing that's really, really important is having that customer obsession: being focused on the customer’s wants, needs or better yet a term, I was recently introduced to, user journeys. You know this, this idea of jobs to be done. I think so often and I've been guilty of this in the past. You design products and services saying the QA space because you want to offer some QA services to a client and you design them in what you want the industry to be. Not where the industry and the customer currently is. There's no point me designing a service that is based on ideals that perhaps aren't quite ready for the wider market. So those two things being obsessed about your customer and what they actually want and having brilliant people that can help you execute on it. 

00:36:04 Lina Zubyte 

Great. Thank you so much. 

00:36:06 Thomas Shipley 

No worries. Thank you. Thanks for having me. 

00:36:09 Lina Zubyte 

That's it for today's episode. Thank you so much for listening. If you liked this episode, check out the episode notes, subscribe, and share it with your friends. Until the next time, do not forget to continue caring about and building those high quality products and teams. Bye! 


Thomas' intro
Persuasion vs. influencing
Motivation to talk about persuasion
Why is persuasion important? In what situations you could apply it?
Strategies for persuasion
Can persuasion can do more harm than good?
What are the things worth persuading for?
Resources to learn more
Thomas' advice for building high-quality products and teams