Whether you realize it or not, everyone needs to master the art of persuasion. The ability to persuade is not just for salespeople. You will find you need to convince friends your proposal makes sense, show potential investors your business is viable and will generate a return or even help your parents understand why they should let you go on (and even finance) that college trip overseas.
The best thing about persuasion is that you don’t have to be born with the incredible ability to persuade in order to make your point. A thoughtful, deliberate argument can help you get what you want. But, how exactly do you influence and persuade people to behave a little differently and or do what you want? Here are habits that can help you become a master of persuasion in no time.
1. Plan and prepare beforehand.
This is vital. Master persuaders think through what they want others to do for them and possible differences in thinking that may stand in their way beforehand. Look at your idea from the other person’s perspective. Ask yourself: “If I said or did this, how would they interpret it or react?” Planning and preparing beforehand helps you know exactly what you are up against so you can fine-tune your offer to make it fit in with what the other party thinks is acceptable. This habit significantly improves your chances of success from the start.
2. Manage your mood and state.
Master persuaders keep their mood and state under control always. It doesn’t matter if you have just broken up with your boyfriend, missed out on a big business deal or been booked for speeding, keep your feelings and emotions under check. Managing your mood and state will ensure when you walk in to give your proposal, you are completely focused on your audience. When you are completely focused on your audience and in the right state of mind, your language flows. You will build rapport fast and sound more convincing. You can always deal with your other issues later after you’ve successfully passed your message across.
3. Look for common ground.
Instead of jumping right in to the grey areas of the matter, master persuaders start with premises or statement they know their audience will agree with. This is important because it helps you establish an emotional connection and identify shared values and objectives. It also helps you lay the foundation for further agreement. Studies actually show that gaining agreement from the start has an enduring effect, even if only over the short term. If you can get your audience nodding their head in agreement from the start, there is a higher probability they will also nod their head in agreement in the end.
4. Pay attention and listen.
Master persuaders focus enough that they can pick up their audience’s mood. If the audience’s mood is down and the persuader is feeling all fired up and energized, she will notice and tone down her excited mood so it can be just a little more upbeat than that of the audience. Pay attention to what the other person is saying and gradually improve their mood once you’ve established rapport. Ask as many questions as necessary to make sure you know exactly where the other person stands and what they want. People generally want to tell their story. Be that person who is excited to hear it. Repeat to your audience your understanding of their situation and confirm it before you proceed.
5. Simplify your ideas and data.
Master persuaders are clear, concise and to the point when presenting their ideas, data and reasoning. Control the focus of your audience’s attention with your choice of questions. Minimize perceived shortcomings in your idea(s) or thoughts by highlighting the value or pros of what you are offering in the eyes of the other person. Talk about potential negatives of your proposal in brief and how you will mitigate or overcome those problems. People are more likely to be persuaded when they understand what’s on the table and know that you also understand your idea could have misgivings.
6. Acknowledge valid opposing views.
Master persuaders know even the best proposals and ideas are not infallible. They give ground when they can and hold their ground when it matters. You don’t have to win every little battle to win the war. You are entitled to your own opinion and so are the people you want to persuade. Give full credit for every valid argument against yours when you hear it. Don’t be foolhardy and dismiss others outright. Respect and acknowledge their views, especially when they are contrary to yours. When you respect and don’t dismiss other people’s views outright, they are inclined to pay you equal respect and be more open to the merits of your own opposing view. This lays solid ground for you to win them over in the future.
7. Smile for affect.
People are so positively affected by a genuine smile that they are more apt to listen and trust those for whom they have good feelings. Master persuaders know this and smile even when talking on the phone. Your ‘smile’ always comes through in your voice. It makes people feel good, at ease and is a powerful seduction tactic you can use for affect. Keep in mind smiling is contagious and the expression you wear on your face is far more important than the clothes you wear on your back.
8. Back away after you’ve made your case.
Master persuaders don’t coerce and cajole. They bring you along in your own time. This is because they know deep ideas require time and thought to take root. Present your case as best you can and then give the other person space and time to carefully consider your preposition, especially if your position has serious ramifications. Nothing is quite as powerful as allowing someone time and space to persuade themselves on your behalf. If they don’t come around after you’ve made your case and walked away, you were probably wasting your time and effort trying to persuade them in the first place.