A successful professional must be adept at persuading others. Whether it’s asking team members to be more productive, negotiating a contract or agreement or convincing prospective customers to purchase a product or service, your persuasion skills are well worth developing.
Persuasion involves influence. Persuasion can attempt to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors. In business, persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s), by using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination thereof.
Persuasion can also be interpreted as using one’s personal or positional resources to change people’s behaviors or attitudes. Systematic persuasion is the process through which attitudes or beliefs are changed by appeals to logic and reason. Empirical persuasion on the other hand is the process through which attitudes or beliefs are changed because of appeals to habit or emotion.
Here are some tips for increasing your powers of persuasion and making effective arguments.
Be courteous. Arguments are not always rational. Respect the other person’s point of view no matter how ridiculous it sounds to you.
Don’t be pushy or heavy-handed. Successful persuaders understand that you don’t win the battle by constantly berating people with an unending verbal barrage. “Wearing people down” is not an effective strategy.” Adopting hard-ball techniques to win someone over will likely produce resistance vs. acceptance.
Be confident. People don’t listen to the smartest person in the room. A 2013 study found that they listen to the people who act as if they know what is right
Make it about them. It is nearly impossible to sway someone to your point of view if you don’t factor in that person’s wants, needs, and fears. The argument you present should be about them, and how doing what you propose will benefit them in some way, big or small. Persuasion also requires empathy and the ability to see things from another person’s perspective.
Ask opened-questions. Open-ended questions will transform competitive interactions into cooperative.
Show that people agree. We often assume that what other people are doing is the correct behavior. This is why having celebrity endorsements is an effective marketing tool.
Don’t Ask Why, Ask How. A 2013 study showed that when people with extreme views had to explain how their opinions were right, instead of just why they were right, they were more confident in their convictions.
Use graphs or other visuals. People trust scientists therefore doing things that make you appear more scientific, like using visuals, make you more trustworthy.
Offer examples. A persuasive appeal usually includes an example or analogy that illustrates the value of the argument. Whenever possible, use an example that elicits an emotional response from the other person. Want to motivate your employees to improve their customer-relation skills? Tell them about a satisfied customer who went out of her way to praise a particular staff member.
Be prepared to compromise. Asking someone to do something for you becomes a lot more palatable to them when you demonstrate a willingness to give a little on your end. Another option is to do something for them in return. If you are asking a team to work additional hours, consider providing free refreshments or offer them additional time, in lieu. By acknowledging and rewarding the effort that you are requesting, you are much more likely to gain the support of others.
Communicate clearly. Attempts to persuade others often falter because the argument is too vague or ambiguous. People are naturally reluctant to agree to a request if they don’t understand what’s being asked of them. The more straightforward your appeal, the more likely it is others will respond favorably.
Winning at all costs is risky. Attacking someone’s ideas puts them into the flight-or fight mode. Once they are on edge, there will be no getting through to them.
Anticipate questions and objections. Every speaker or presenter should be prepared to handle questions or objections as they arise. Most of the time, you can anticipate the types of questions that people will ask. Be ready with clear answers that help illustrate the value of your proposal, especially in terms of how it benefits the other person or group.
Choose your battles. No one succeeds in getting their way all of the time, at least, no one that others respect and follow willingly. You’ll be far more persuasive if you’re selective in what you ask for, when you ask for it, and how often you let others determine a particular course of action. If you want to persuade more, argue and advocate less often.
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