Whether we are at home or at work, and whether we are with our friends and family, or, work colleagues one thing is certain. We all employ a variety of communication tactics on a daily basis to influence the people around us. We want and need to get things from other people, as they do from us. We want them to trust us, to endorse our ideas, to agree with our suggestions.
Being persuasive is vital to success.
So what is persuasion?
Persuasion is the act of convincing another to change their thinking or behavior whilst ensuring there is a measure of freedom in the decision making process.
Is persuasion the same as manipulation?
Manipulation is where you force, direct or coerce your stakeholder to your way of thinking. Generally manipulation is considered to be a win/lose approach to a communication scenario. Persuasion is the assertive approach using reasoning, empathetic argument and compelling benefits to get people to do things that are in their interests as well as in the interest of the persuader. It’s a basic law of human nature that no human can feel truly happy by making someone else unhappy. Persuasion is where everyone is on the winning team.
Your end goal must be reasonable.
Whilst the outcome you seek might not always be easy to attain, it’s essential that it is reasonable in nature. If the outcome you’re seeking is unreasonable it won’t matter how good your persuasion skills are, the stakeholder will always say no to you. So be careful to pick your battles and only aim to persuade where there can be a win/win outcome for all parties.
15 Tips to Improve your Persuasive Ability
1. It’s not about you. If you want to get your way, you must first know what is important to your stakeholder. Get into their shoes and understand the world from their point of view. Ask questions about what interests them. Talk about them. It’s ALL about them.
2. Listen with your whole self. The best way to really understand what someone is thinking, feeling and doing in relation to your persuasion scenario is to ask questions and then listen. Really listen to every word. Be present. Persuasive people can listen to what is both said an unsaid so they can manage objections before they really get in the way.
3. Believe in yourself. Stop thinking you’re not good enough, not prepared enough, or you haven’t got what it takes. Train yourself to think confidently. Why would people believe you, if you don’t display that you believe in yourself? Make sure you do what you can to manage your self-talk, believe in yourself and then put your most confident foot forward in every situation.
4. You must be credible. Why would people do what you ask if they don’t believe you and trust you? Learn how to tell people about your successes and triumphs without boasting so they know what you are capable of. Do what you can with your dress, speech, body language and attitude to display your credibility from the outset.
5. Use your authority. A basic rule of influence is that people will pay attention to authority. That’s why certain advertisements use doctors to tell you what to do or not to do. Do your research, know your content, and work out how to communicate your authority in a positive way to encourage your stakeholder to yes.
6. Establish rapport. We like people who are like ourselves. And it’s a fact that people are more likely to say ‘yes’ to someone they like. Don’t be afraid to connect and establish a relationship with people by telling them a bit about yourself. Disclose about your family, hobbies, interests, passions. Look people in the eye when you speak to them and be sure to call them by their name.
7. Be generous. The more you give, the more you will get in return, or so states the law of reciprocity. Work out what your stakeholder needs and give them as much as you can without giving away your power, even if it’s just a compliment so that the stakeholder is compelled to return your kindness.
8. Manage your personal brand. Your personal brand is the words other people use to describe you behind your back (when you are not there to hear them talking about you!) Be sure to manage every aspect of your personal brand from your grooming, to your speech patterns, to the formality of your speech (your use of slang/swearing), and the way your carry and conduct yourself. Remember you cannot not influence, and people are always watching!
9. Pay attention to your appearance. Although appearance seems a superficial focal point, how we present ourselves influences how others perceive us. Whether you are male or female, being well-groomed and wearing clothes that fit properly will help create a professional image.
10. Make it scarce. Cialdini’s principle of scarcity suggests that things are more attractive when their availability is limited, or when we stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favorable terms. For instance, we might buy something immediately if we’re told that it’s the last one, or that a special offer will soon expire. So where possible harness this approach and make your offer scarce.
11. Make it critical. Ensure that you make the problem as critical as is relevant for the scenario and then show how easy it will be to fix it using your suggestions. Be sure to eliminate any fear associated with the problem through your solution.
12. Have a sense of humour. It’s no fluke that funny people are more desirable than beautiful people! Be yourself and be sure to find a way to inject your style of humour when you speak. It might be a joke, or pun, or simply laughing. People will be attracted to your ease.
13. Be persistent. When it comes to change, most people take a bit of time to make up their mind. So be sure to hang in there. Don’t give up when you hear the first ‘no’. Just be clever and change your approach if something is not working.
14. Be flexible. The law of requisite variety states that the system/person with the most flexibility of behaviour will control the system. Strive to develop an arsenal of responses that you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in to be sure that you achieve your outcome.
15. Stay calm, keep your emotions in check – the best advice anyone ever gave me when it came to parenting my three daughters was to respond rather than react. This advice is invaluable in business too. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. If you need to walk away to calm down first then do so.
All these tips will help you develop your ability to persuade no matter the communication scenario. Why not pick one each week and take the time to plan out how you could put each tip into practice with your upcoming meetings and workplace communications.
This article originally appeared on Women’s Agenda.