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How to be more persuasive: 6 tips for convincing others

November 9, 2022 - 12 min read

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How to be more persuasive: 6 pro tips

Here are some principles of persuasion

What to remember when learning how to be persuasive

The importance of persuasion skills

Effective communication is all about exchanging ideas. That includes establishing a good rapport with coworkers and colleagues, listening to what they have to say, and addressing any needs or concerns they might have. 

But sometimes a conversation’s trajectory is pointed, like when you need to convince others of a proposal’s value or help them see things from your perspective. 

The power of persuasion can help you accomplish goals like these. LinkedIn named persuasion among the top soft skills for employees in 2020 because it increases company performance and furthers one’s career, making this soft skill valuable on many levels. 

If you’re a new manager, having your team understand and support your decisions and policies is essential. And if you’re an employee who constantly collaborates with large teams, everyone needs to be on the same page to avoid wasting time or confusing project details. 

When considering how to be more persuasive at work, you have many options, including persuasion techniques for to influence people and communication tactics to help get your point across clearly and confidently. 

How to be more persuasive: 6 pro tips

While persuasion may seem as simple as relaying information to convince people of a particular belief or concept, there’s a lot of nuance involved.

Below are six tips for sharing your message without putting off or confusing people.

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1. Know your audience and their interests

Understanding the subtle differences between the people you’re speaking with helps you adjust your behavior to their interests. This could mean using a mellow tone of voice with a reserved person to put them at ease or emphasizing how doing things your way will save a certain person time. 

2. Don’t be pushy

Even if you think your idea is best, a pushy approach only drives people away. Being pushy causes defensiveness and makes people check out before you’re able to give a thorough, convincing pitch. Instead, an assured, straightforward approach shows you’re not mincing words or using manipulative tactics. Listen well and concede if they make a good point.  

3. Use positive and engaging body language

Pay close attention to your nonverbal communication — positive body language draws people in and may make them more receptive to your ideas. Some techniques include uncrossing your arms, making eye contact, leaning toward the person speaking, and using a passionate tone. How you say something is just as important as what you have to say. 

4. Get to the point

Nobody enjoys burdensome, complex explanations — they’re tiresome and boring, and your ideas seem less appealing. Speaking to your audience in a straightforward, transparent manner makes your point understandable and enjoyable, and shows you’ve thought deeply about the topic.

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5. Maintain a sincere tone

When trying to persuade others, assuring them of your honesty goes a long way toward increasing trust. You want to prove that your idea adds more value than someone else’s, not trick people into believing it's a good solution.

Those who come off as phony or over-confident often cause doubts, even if their pitch is strong. When you demonstrate honesty, people let their guard down and become more receptive. 

6. Ask detailed questions

For those wondering how to be more persuasive in sales or customer-oriented roles, asking questions shows a genuine interest in someone’s needs or concerns. Many people focus on explaining their point in extreme detail in the hopes of winning someone over. But closely listening to people’s ideas shows you genuinely care about this person agreeing with you.

When your audience knows you value what they have to say, it creates a better rapport and enhances communication. 

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Here are some principles of persuasion

Psychologist Robert Cialdini found that persuasion has seven main principles. Once you recognize the importance of being persuasive, following these fundamentals is an excellent place to improve your skill. 

  • Reciprocity: If someone thinks they owe you, they’re more likely to return the favor — even if they didn’t want your help in the first place.
  • Scarcity: The less available something is, the more people want it. People feel the same way about information. 
  • Authority: People understand and intuitively react to authority figures, even when they know they shouldn’t. You’re more likely to believe a senior manager simply because they’re a senior manager, no matter their track record. 
  • Consistency: A key element of being reliable is consistency, for you and those around you. Keeping to your values and commitments is a great motivator, and seeing someone keep to their values inspires trust. 
  • Likability: Although it’s impossible to make everyone like you, people are often compelled to try. And the more someone likes you, the more likely they’ll support your ideas.
  • Consensus: It’s nice to feel like part of the group. If you find out everyone is behaving or thinking a certain way, you’ll feel inclined to mirror them. 
  • Unity: More than just being part of the group, people like to belong. People look to those around them when making decisions and model their behavior after others, especially those they trust or admire. 

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What to remember when learning how to be persuasive

To master your persuasion skills most effectively, remember these things. 

  • Persuasion doesn’t mean manipulation. When we persuade, we convince others to support something that’s both beneficial to them and us. By using trusted methods and tactics, you can better convey why a concept or belief makes sense for your audience and assure them you have their best interests at heart.

    When we manipulate, we force someone to agree with us, even if it’s detrimental to their interests. Persuasion requires good intentions — you’re not trying to trick someone into doing what benefits only you. 
  • Be mindful that people are persuadable at different times. Considering your audience’s most accommodating times ensures you reach people when they’re open to listening. Asking someone questions after a tough one-on-one with their boss probably means they’ll be less cooperative than if you catch them after a successful project launch. 
  • Be persistent. Those who consistently show their audience a concept’s value are the most persuasive. If you’re asking people to try your new scheduling method every week, you’re communicating that you really believe your way will work — your confidence sways people to believe in you.
    This persistence also increases your chances of catching someone when they’re most persuadable. 
  • Don’t assume. When tackling how to be more persuasive in writing or when sharing a viewpoint, providing value takes center stage. If you assume someone’s interests, you may miss addressing their actual needs.

    Even if you think you know what a person wants to hear, focus on explaining all you have to offer. This gives your listener the complete picture and prepares them for thoughtful decision-making.
  • Set expectations. Setting realistic expectations and meeting them is another useful fundamental of persuasion. If you pitch a new initiative for your team to save time on deliverables, people might be initially skeptical. Once they see the idea in practice — and hopefully working well — they’ll be more likely to believe you in the future.
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The importance of persuasion skills 

Apart from the obvious benefit of getting people on your side, good persuasion skills improve your ability to communicate and share ideas in your professional life. Here are some of the top benefits of being persuasive. 

  • It positively impacts your performance. If you’re persuasive, there’s a good chance you’ll experience increased job performance. That’s because people implement your ideas and show off your problem-solving, creativity, and leadership skills
  • It boosts professional development. With better performance comes more opportunity. When you exhibit the ability to persuade others, your company benefits from your good communication skills, and those in leadership positions are apt to take notice. You might even be able to reason your way into a raise or a promotion to move along your career path faster. 
  • It stimulates organizational change. Many companies are hesitant to change long-standing processes or procedures. If you have strong persuasion skills, you can better convince them your suggestions are valid, which could positively affect the company in the long run. 

Mastering the art of persuasion means you can authentically share concepts and effectively convince your team to embrace changes that benefit everyone involved. Being indispensable at work is an admirable goal — knowing how to be more persuasive will help you get there.

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Published November 9, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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