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At the end of the day, your ultimate professional success could rely on one basic thing — getting people to do what you want.
The trick is, being persuasive without adopting dishonest or manipulative tactics.
However, no matter who you are and what industry you’re in, the ability to influence others is crucial.
Here are nine methods for persuading others — some might seem a bit tricky, but they could provide a serious boost to your career:
1. Always have a good visual handy
A picture’s worth a thousand words.
As Forbes previously reported, Dartmouth University’s Brendan Nyhan and Georgia State’s Jason Reifler ran a study looking into strongly held political convictions.
The researchers presented information that contradicted with the worldview of the study participants — hoping to see what it’d take to persuade them. Subjects didn’t respond well to a written summary of evidence or attempts to assuage their self-esteem and make them feel comfortable.
However, all isn’t lost. According to the study, charts were actually persuasive.
This won’t always be easy — it’s not like you’ll always have a chart or a powerpoint on hand whenever you need to convince someone of something. However, this is an important to keep in mind. Cold facts and personal connections won’t always do the trick — sometimes, a visual presentation is the edge that you need to sell your point.
You don’t even have to get too fancy. As Stephen Meyer wrote for Forbes:
“All visuals used in the study were simple plain-vanilla graphs, so their power had nothing to do with fancy design or big production values. They were effective because they spoke to the brain in its native language.”
2. Make people feel good
Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” lists “liking” someone as a major “weapon of influence.”
According to the American Psychological Association, when we have a good feeling about someone, we’re more likely to find them persuasive.
That’s not too surprising. Still, for anyone that’s a bit shy or awkward, that probably sounds easier said than done. However, as Business Insider previously reported, there are a few habits that you can get into in order to come across as more likeable.
3. Look the part
Would you buy something from a salesperson who’s slouching, fidgeting, and avoiding eye contact? Of course not! They could be the most honest person in the world, but it wouldn’t matter. Their body language projects a lack of confidence at best, deception at worst.
If you’re going to become persuasive, you’ve got to brush up on some body language tips and start looking the part.
4. Repeat yourself
“Words, words, words,” as Hamlet said.
Repetition can be pretty annoying. In writing, it’s horrendous if overdone. In conversations, it’s brutal (we all know someone who keeps cycling between the same few anecdotes — or, if you’re like me, you are that person).
However, repetition in speeches and pitches isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of famous speakers employed rhetorical devices that involved repetition. Feel free to adopt it to emphasize and drive hope your point.
5. Make people want to help you
The American Psychological Association reports that Cialdini found “reciprocity” is a key factor in persuasion.
This makes perfect sense. People tend to be more comfortable supporting individuals who’ve demonstrably done something for them.
So it’s not a bad idea to start establishing a network of people that “owe you one.”
6. Don’t whine
When you’re trying to present a convincing point, it can be difficult to strike a good balance. You don’t want to appear passive, but you also don’t want to come on too strong.
John Brandon of Inc. writes that it’s probably better to air on the side of honesty and politeness:
“Some of the most miserable people I know have this attitude about persuasion that it’s all about cajoling others. You try to trick them — usually through a stern attitude or a demanding voice — to get what you want. It doesn’t really work, unless ‘what you what’ is the same as feeling miserable.”
7. Demonstrate your value
What makes gold, diamonds, and Ninetales so valuable?
According to the American Psychological Association, scarcity it another one one Cialdini’s principles of persuasion.
People tend to value what is rare and unusual. It can be tricky sometimes, but try to use hat psychological quirk to frame and construct a convincing argument.
8. Have people do favors for you
Counterintuitively, people tend to like you more when they do things for you. It’s called the “Ben Franklin effect.” So if you can put yourself in a position where others do favors for you, that’s a good start. As Changing Minds notes, Franklin once wrote, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
9. Tell a story
Humans are emotional creatures. Data and facts are crucial, but if you really want to be persuasive, you’ve got to appeal to emotion as well. This means finding a compelling way of conveying what’s on your mind. Whether you’re speaking with your boss, interviewing with a hiring manager, or even giving a presentation, you should always strive to tell a story.
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