26 Nov How to be more persuasive and get what you want in life

Every day, in many ways, we find ourselves communicating with the goal of influencing the people around us. Let’s face it, we want and need to get things from other people. We want them to trust us, to endorse our ideas, to agree with our suggestions. Gone are the days when you could get away with poor persuasion skills. It’s a fact that if you have strong persuasion skills you will have greater success in your entire life.

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. Whereas 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 your outcome 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 Skills

  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.
  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.
  3. Believe in yourself. Stop thinking you’re not good enough, not prepared enough, or you haven’t got what it takes. Think confident thoughts. Why would people believe you, if you don’t display that you believe in yourself?
  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. 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. Establish a relationship with people by telling them a bit about yourself. 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.
  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. People are always watching!
  9. Beautify yourself. There’s heaps of research around that shows attractive people are more persuasive.
  10. Make it scarce. Cialdini’s principle or 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.
  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.
  1. Have a Sense of humour. It’s no fluke that funny people are more desirable than beautiful ones! Be yourself and be sure to find a way to inject your style of humour when you speak.
  2. 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 isn’t working.
  1. 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 a huge arsenal of responses that you can use depending on the situation you find yourself in to be sure that you achieve your outcome.
  1. Stay calm, keep your emotions in check – respond don’t react. 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.

Happy Persuading!

Michelle Bowden CSP is a recognized expert on the subject of persuasive presenting in business. She’s a best selling author (Wiley) and the co-creator of the PRSI, a world-first, brand new psychometric indicator that reports on your persuasive strengths and weaknesses. To download your free copy of Michelle’s How to Present magazine please visit www.michellebowden.com.au