You could get your work colleagues to see things your way at work. You could sail through negotiations with your kids, about whether now is bedtime, or if they should eat their broccoli.
You could also be more successful in the things you want to achieve. Because we all need good people on our side to do big things, don't we?
The question is – can you learn to be more persuasive? Even if you think you weren’t blessed with so-called “powers of persuasion”?
Hell yes you can!
After all, not every persuasive person you admire was born with their gifts. As a child, Steve Jobs was bullied so badly for being a loner that his parents had to move him to another school. Had they not, it’s doubtful he would have founded Apple.
Billionaire Oprah Winfrey famously started her career by talking her way into a job at a local news company. But if her grandmother hadn’t taught her public speaking skills, that would likely never have happened.
The lesson is – both of these master persuaders learned their skills. Just as you are about to now.
Here are 7 habits that super-persuasive people all share. Read about them. Memorise them. Try them, and then try them again.
You probably won’t become Dale Carnegie overnight. But you will be a more persuasive person than when you opened this page. And that’s worth a lot – for your work life, your home life, and for your entire future.
1. They smileLet’s start simple. Smile.
When you smile, you project confidence and happiness. These are qualities that other people want. And they are more willing to believe someone who already has them.
Smiling shows you have enthusiasm for your ideas. This gives your audience more confidence in you.
Smiling also makes your audience smile and feel happier. It’s contagious. And if you can make your audience feel happier, you’re a step close to persuading them.
2. They address people by nameHere’s another super-simple one, which makes people feel happy and important. When you’re talking to someone, use their name.
Don't just say it at the start of the conversation - “hello, Jane”. Say it throughout as well.
“What do you think, David?”
“Wouldn’t you agree, Saira?”
Research shows this makes people feel validated. In turn, it strengthens your relationships, and makes you more persuasive.
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3. They use positive body languageSo far, so easy. And our next persuasive habit is yet another that’s simple and quick to learn.
Persuasive people don’t just say the right things. They project positivity and confidence with their body language too. Because, as copious research shows, 60-90% of communication is non-verbal.
We already mentioned smiling. But there are lots more body language techniques you can start using now to become more persuasive:
· Give a firm handshake
· Use an enthusiastic tone of voice
· Don’t cross your arms
· Maintain eye contact
· Lean towards the person you’re speaking to
· Use affirmative movements, such as nodding your head
All of these things project confidence and positivity. This makes you easier to believe in, and a better persuader.
4. They warm up with an easy winThese tips aren’t getting any trickier. This one’s easy too.
Research shows that agreement breeds trust and further agreement. In other words, if a person agrees with you on one point, they’re more likely to agree with you on another point you raise.
That’s why a persuasive people will begin their pitch with statements they know their audience will agree with.
It can be something simple and obvious. For example, when proposing a work project you might say “I believe the sales team can exceed its targets with the right approach. Wouldn’t you agree?”
Easy, early wins like this help you build momentum. Your audience will be easier to persuade when you get to your more contentious points.
5. They don’t hide the downsidesIf you were waiting for the part where we try to turn you into a snake oil salesman, feel free to breathe a sigh of relief now. You don’t need to lie or cover up negatives to be persuasive.
Persuasive people speak openly and honestly because they know most people are smart –they can spot when something is too good to be true.
That’s why it’s good to present the negatives, as well as the positives, when you’re trying to persuade.
Discussing the negatives or downsides of your ideas makes you more persuasive because:
· It shows you’ve carefully considered and understand the topic at hand
· It shows that you’re being open, honest and worthy of trust
· It allays your audience’s fears about the downsides, so long as you address them properly and present solutions where needed
So, stop thinking you need to paint a perfect picture in order to be persuasive. Be genuine, address potential risks, and you will be more persuasive.
Listening is one of the best things you can do to form a connection with your audience and get them on your side. And like our previous habits of persuasive people, it’s easy to do.
6. They listen
When you listen to someone, you show you care about what they say. It’s not all about you. It’s also about what you can do for the person you are trying to persuade.
When giving any kind of pitch, always:
· Allow your audience time to process and respond to what you’ve said
· Listen carefully to what they say, and reply as thoughtfully as possible
· Ask questions to learn more about what they really want
These habits show your audience that you are on their side. Which makes them more likely to be on yours.
7. They give their audience time to thinkDelivering a persuasive pitch can sometimes be an adrenaline rush. You’re nervous about the outcome. You’re desperate to get the outcome you want, right now.
This can lead you down a dangerous path, where you ask your audience to give you a decision as soon as you have stopped talking.
But persuasive people don’t do that. They know smart people are wary of hasty conclusions, preferring instead to mull over facts before coming to a decision.
Make it your habit to respect this approach, and always give your audience time to think before you ask them for a decision.
If your ideas are good, and you’ve used the persuasive techniques above, then you have nothing to fear. Your audience will be happier with their decision too.
You can start using these habits today
So, there you have it. If you thought becoming more persuasive was going to be complicated or difficult, we hope we’ve given you a pleasant surprise.
You can use any or all of these habits the next time you pitch an idea.
And whatever you’re trying to be more persuasive about, we wish you the best of luck!