The art of persuasion isn’t just for lawyers, businessmen and politicians. It’s a skill we all use daily. In its simplest form, persuasion is communication intended to change someone’s thoughts, feelings or behaviors. Anyone wanting to learn how to influence others in a peaceful way should find the following five tips a good starting point.
Speak their language
Yes, persuasion is most effective when you speak the actual language of your target audience, but this tip goes beyond that. Pay attention to words and phrases often repeated and blend their exact wording into making your points. Ensure that you’re not just simply adopting the words they use, but how they use them as well. This improves both the clarity and power behind your persuasion.
Facts and statistics establish your credibility and gains trust. People aren’t persuaded by those that don’t know what they’re talking about nor are they persuaded by people they don’t trust. Studies show that people are more likely to side with someone who cites studies, polls and stats to back up their message. Make sure and find the most reliable and acceptable sources so that people have little room to criticize you or your information. Stay open, honest and transparent by giving people the opportunity to double check your information.
Often, emotional appeals prove to be as effective or even more persuasive than facts. In persuading people, create emotions that support your message. Start by asking which emotions would someone need to feel persuaded? Next, you can shape these emotions by sharing a personal story, asking someone else to share a personal experience, creating a hypothetical scenario, using metaphors, playing music or video and more. Facts may get people thinking, but emotions motivate people to act.
Give and take
Also known as reciprocity is one the most powerful and important tools we have for persuading others. It starts with listening and finding common ground before you make your point. Think of a time when your kids asked you for some candy before dinner. Agree with them that the candy does look delicious. Then say you would like a piece too and that everyone can enjoy the candy after dinner is persuasion through reciprocity.
Think of free samples. Consumer product marketers often persuade new customers by letting them try the product first. This method also works well in every day situations. Let’s say you run a non-profit and need volunteers. Most people are hesitant to commit to lengthy assignments like a full year. However, you can suggest a short trial and offer to let the volunteers come in for a week or two. They can decide later if they want to commit time or not. Offering smaller opportunities to help might mean more people will sign up.