We all like to get our way. I don’t know one person who doesn’t. But how do we make that happen? We all use persuasion every day, whether we know it or not. Getting someone to comply with what you want them to do can take place in many different contexts. You can persuade your significant other, your boss, your client, or even give a persuasive speech or presentation. Regardless of what context you are applying your persuasive skills, there are some useful strategies that can help you get what you want easily.
1. You need to give your “audience” what they want and desire.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “what’s in it for me?” And I’m sure most of you reading this have thought or even said it yourself! We all have. Let’s face it: we’re all inherently self-centered. If something doesn’t make us happier or our lives better, we are not very interested in it. So in order to persuade your “audience” (whether it is an individual or an audience of 1,000 people), you need to tell them how it is going to benefit them. You can’t just focus on yourself or they will tune out. If you focus on helping them achieve their wants and desires, they will be ready to sign on the dotted line.
2. Don’t require the “audience” to change too much.
Human beings are not only self-centered‒many of us are lazy too! Anyone who has made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more knows how difficult it is to change your habits or your lifestyle. Plus, it is much easier to persuade people on simple things (“Here! Try this new hot fudge sunday!” or “This new toothpaste is great! You should try it!”) rather than deeper convictions (“Hey! You should switch religions!” or “I love the president, but you hate him. Vote for him anyway!”). Audiences need to be exposed to a message multiple times before they even consider changing their attitudes or behaviors.
3. Make your audience like you.
Let’s say you are out at a furniture store to buy a new couch and love seat. A sales person comes up to you and starts up a conversation. You had already picked out your couches, but the sales person really annoys you. He smells bad, talks too much, and follows you around yammering on and on about nothing. Even if you were just about to whip out your credit card to buy the furniture, you might just want to make your escape to get away from the sales person. You might even do that and try to find another store that sells the same couches‒I think you get the point. If your audience doesn’t like you, they’re not going to buy into what you say. Be nice, friendly, and connected. Make sure you think about the impression you’re giving off at all times.
4. Make your audience trust you.
Would you vote for a political candidate who you didn’t trust? Would you lend money to a friend if you didn’t think she would pay you back? Of course not! People are more easily persuaded by others that they trust. That is one of the reasons Oprah has the “golden touch.” If she recommends a book to her audience, it automatically becomes a best-seller. Why? Because they trust Oprah! They trust her opinion, so they will automatically do what she says to do. So in order for you to get people to do what you want them to, you need to gain their trust as well.
5. Use emotional strategies to persuade them.
One of the easiest ways to persuade someone is to use emotion. Great examples of this are the television commercials that show the starving children in third world countries. They ask you to donate money to them on a monthly basis so they can have clean water, food, clothes, and schooling. The visual images are very sad, and so it makes people want to give money to help them. Even in personal relationships, we use emotion to persuade. However, you have to be careful doing this. Sometimes it is not ethical if you use guilt to manipulate someone on purpose. But appealing to positive emotions like love, happiness, belonging, or togetherness is a great way to get your “audience” to agree with you.
6. Use logic to persuade your audience.
Not everyone is an emotional person. Some people might be turned off by overly using emotion to persuade them. So it’s important to remember to use logic sometimes, too. If your “audience” is one person, try to assess their personality as best as you can. See if they seem to appreciate logic and rationality over emotion. But if your audience is a large group of people, you will have a mixture of different people. So the best thing to do is to combine logic with emotional appeals. That way, you will likely influence everyone in some way.
7. Use your personal qualities.
If you are an expert on the topic, make sure the audience knows. Dress the part. Look the part. Act the part. Be dynamic. Be engaging. Your audience will be much more persuaded if you give them reasons why they should pay attention to you. People are very easily persuaded by people they know or respect. That is why advertisements use celebrities so often. They are recognizable, and many people will buy a product simply because that particular public figure is telling them to. So selling yourself is key to persuading others.
Sometimes persuasion can be easy. Sometimes it’s difficult. But if you keep these 7 tips in mind, you will be very successful in getting what you want.
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