How to Be More Persuasive

Do you have a difficult time getting people to see your point of view?  The power of persuasion can be useful in all areas of your life.  Luckily, it is a skill that can be practiced and improved upon.  Follow these tips and you will find it easier to convince people to move in your direction:

Determine what is important to your audience.  What motivates the person that you are trying to convince?  What are they currently trying to achieve?  Find out the answer to these questions and keep focused on what is important to them.

Choose the right time for your pitch.  Sometimes your success or failure to persuade somebody can all be determined by timing.  Remember when you were a child and you would wait until your dad was in a good mood before you would ask him for something?  The same principle applies here.  Pay attention to when they seem to be more relaxed and open to conversation.  If they aren’t a morning person, it may be better to wait until after lunch.

Speak their language.  Consider the person that you are trying to persuade and speak in a way that makes them feel comfortable.  For example, if you are speaking to a professor, you may want to elevate your language, however, if you are talking to a group of high school students, the use of slang (as long as it’s current and appropriate) may be more effective.

Appeal to their sense of reason.  Most people are reasonable and are willing to consider a well-thought out argument.  Take your time when making your case and provide details and lots of examples.

Consider reciprocity.  Whenever you are trying to persuade somebody, their burning question is always, “What’s in it for me?”  How will your proposal positively affect them?  If it won’t, is there something else that you can do for them?  If you go out of your way to assist them, most people will return the favour.

Build a rapport.  It is a lot easier to be convincing if they actually like you. Smile and turn on the charm and they will be more likely to say yes!

Communicate clearly.  If your argument is complex and confusing, few people will buy into it.  Practice making your argument as if you were talking to a child.  People are much more inclined to agree with you when they can easily understand you.

Don’t get emotional.  Once you lose control of your emotions, there is a good chance that you’ve already lost the battle.  If you get emotional when you are trying to make a case, many people will perceive that as a weakness.  They may believe that you have a very personal stake in the situation and that you’re not being rational.  Do your best to stay cool, calm and collected.  If you need some space to collect your thoughts, then step outside and return to the conversation when you’re feeling more composed.   

Never mistake persuasion for manipulation.  Persuasion considers the other party’s best interest, while manipulation does not.  If you are trying to manipulate someone, sooner or later they will figure it out.  Remember, the most persuasive people are empathetic and remain focused on maintaining positive long term relationships.

(Written by:  Karen Bivand)

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