From begging your parents for that dream car to convincing your friend to go to the party, we’ve all used the art of persuasion to try and get what we want. There must have been times when your attempt to get a ‘yes’ resulted in a well-rounded ‘no’ (especially when asking for that sports car back in the day).
Getting the knack of persuasion can be difficult to master, especially at work. Throughout your career, you’ll find that persuasion is one of the most powerful professional skills you can have, whether it’s with a boss, client or your employees. It’s the ultimate trick to winning a sales pitch, and it’s what will help convince your next interviewer you're the one for the role.
If you’re wondering how to persuade people throughout your career, scroll down for 10 tips that can, hopefully, earn you that nod of approval.
1. Know What You Want
A lawyer enters a courtroom, prepared to fight. They’ve got their argument ready, and they know exactly what they’re fighting for. And if you’re trying to convince your boss to promote you or if you’re gearing up for a job interview, for example, you need to truly nail down what it is you want and what you aim to achieve.
Set your goals and be clear about your ambitions. Why are you worthy of that promotion? Why should a company employ you over other candidates?
Understand what it is you’re after, prepare your argument, and you’ll be mastering persuasion in no time.
2. Believe in What You Want
If you don’t believe in your goal or message, nobody else will.
When it comes to persuading someone, you need to portray an air of confidence. You’re aiming to build trust and credibility with your audience, so you need to believe in what you’re trying to accomplish.
If you’re aiming to get a raise, for example, genuinely believe that you deserve it, and express this in your plea. When marketing a product to a client, be passionate about what you’re representing.
Saying things with certainty and confidence will help you establish trust and rapport in your case.
3. Use Positive Speaking
When you give credence to your argument, you leave no room for negativity.
It’s important to talk positively throughout your persuasion. If you’re trying to convince your boss of a new strategy, describe positive outcomes so they can truly picture your goals. Or when you’re selling your product, use positive and high-emotion wording.
Persuasion is one of the main advertising skills that marketing professionals use to promote their products. Like advertisers, you should emphasise your pitch using adjectives like ‘brilliant’, ‘incredible’ and ‘revolutionary’ and power words like ‘proven’ and ‘limited’.
When someone disputes against you, listen to their side and try to put a positive spin on their story that benefits your argument. If you’re debating with a coworker, maintain proper interpersonal skills and never, ever argue back or debunk their opinions.
4. Show Evidence
Whatever it is you’re trying to persuade, back it up with concrete proof. Use evidence to support your reasoning and let the paper do the talking.
At a job interview, for example, prove your skills by providing a reference letter. Likewise, when convincing a colleague that their methods aren’t working, give evidence through reports and statistics.
Improve your sales skills by sharing real-life examples and success stories to solidify your brand. With enough evidence in hand, you have the power to persuade with little to no effort at all.
5. Consider Their Perspective
When trying to persuade someone to do something, put yourself in their shoes. Is that salary increase actually attainable? How will your boss react?
Understand the person you’re going to persuade – what angers them? Are they sensitive to certain subjects? What do they like/dislike? Learning to empathise with your listeners can help you be more persuasive in the long run.
6. Be Clear and Concise
No one likes a rambler, especially one that talks quickly.
Achieve professional persuasive communication by talking in a clear, coherent and logical manner. Don’t drag on the conversation, keep it short, sweet and simple, and try to be as concise as possible. If you are talking in mixed sentences and scrambled words with no meaning, your listener is unlikely to agree with you. Your words will carry weight when you speak properly and professionally.
7. Don’t Save the Best for Last
When trying to influence an idea, remember to say the most important and effective things first. By presenting the strongest facts early on, you’ll avoid boring your listener, and you’ll have them hooked from the get-go.
Don’t save your strongest arguments for last!
In a job interview, for example, focus on the most relevant skills at the start, then move on to your other abilities. If you’re trying to sell a service, meanwhile, master your sales pitch by immediately informing your listeners of its benefits.
At the same time, however, don't give it all away at the beginning – you don’t want to be that ‘rambler’ we talked about before. Perhaps save a story or two for later.
8. Use the Mirroring Technique
When persuading someone, keep an eye on their body language (not in a creepy way, of course). When done properly, mirroring can be a successful technique. This involves mimicking your listener.
A study conducted by Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson and researcher Nick Yee claims that mirroring someone’s behaviour helps increase a social influence on that person. In other words, you have the power to subconsciously put your listener at ease and build a strong connection with them by simulating their motions and gestures.
9. Watch Their Reactions
If you’re trying to convince someone to come over to your side, make sure to be aware of their reactions as you speak. If you notice they smile, nod, stir or open their eyes after your proposal, for example, it might signify that they’re interested.
When your listener shows signs of enthusiasm, try to elaborate on this notion even more.
If your boss likes the sound of your proposed project, for instance, continue highlighting its benefits. If your interviewee lights up at the sound of your experience at said company, tell them more about it. Give people what they want to hear.
10. Mind Your Body Language
Not only can accurate body language improve your social skills but also your persuasion skills.
What you do with your eyes, hands and posture can have a huge impact on your credibility. So, when trying to maximise influence, stand up tall to radiate confidence. Be persuasive by maintaining eye contact to build trust and use your hands and arms to emphasise certain concepts.
It’s generally good to smile throughout your speech, too, but be careful not to keep doing it out of nervousness. You don’t want to be grinning when convincing your boss to make you a manager!
Persuasion and influencing skills can be essential tools throughout your career, and by using our tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your professional goals.
How have you handled persuasion in the past? Did you use certain techniques to win your listener over? Let us know in the comments section below.