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The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

The Remarkable Benefits Of Using These 6 Words To Be More Persuasive

Most persuasion advice is riddled with all of the things you ‘should’ do to get people to do what you want. It ranges from the ‘you catch more bees with honey’ philosophy of being nice and diplomatic, to a more forceful approach of making people do what you want now… ‘or else’.

You’ve probably found that being ‘too nice’ makes people take you less seriously, or that what you’re asking doesn’t matter. On the other side of the coin, being a dictator plants seeds for resentment and rebellion–a lethal combination if you want people to cooperate willingly.

While many persuasion principles hold true–like having a deadline or using authority to inspire action–there’s one 6-word phrase that seems to have been forgotten: Why haven’t you done this yet?

If all we’re doing is coaxing and cajoling people by making the prize of obeying sweeter and sweeter, we actually miss out on a precious learning opportunity. Asking the question “Why haven’t you done this yet?” gives you deep insight into what is holding people back from doing what you want, and the intelligence to create a course of action from there.

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What exactly will that phrase (or a variant of it) reveal to you, and how can you use it effectively? Here are three case-studies that show how you can apply this phrase.

1. How Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, helps his clients be more productive.

Greg’s book, Essentialism, discusses the idea of pursuing what really matters in life, and ruthlessly eliminating what doesn’t. In his work with corporate clients and executives, he recounts stories of how productivity suffers when people don’t know what they’re trying to accomplish, or why. The question that he asks is “What’s preventing you from completing this?” and he uses that to find out exactly what’s in the way and systematically remove the obstacles that prevent people from getting tasks done. This means employees are not only happier, but they’re accomplishing more than they ever could before.

This story illustrates that the way to move people in the direction of a goal is not won through means of manipulation or threatening to keep them past midnight. This 6-word question helps you see exactly why your other tactics might not have been working, saving you both time and energy from trying the next persuasion technique and simply finding out what matters to who you’re talking to.

2. How Million Dollar Consulting author, Alan Weiss, regularly closes 6-figure+ proposals.

The ‘Million Dollar Consultant’, Alan Weiss, generously shares his knowledge of how to get started and succeeding in consulting in many of his books, one of which tells of the exact questions he asks clients before he ever draws up a proposal.

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And what’s the ‘million dollar’ question?

“What would prevent us from getting started on this work tomorrow?”

It’s an 11-word question that reveals the same answer as our 6-word question does. He’s trying to find out what might prevent his potential client from signing with him, perhaps an objection or fear they hadn’t yet discussed.

What’s potent about this is the consequences of not asking this question. If you don’t have the full picture, it’s easy for you to make assumptions — to assume that the client is ‘dumb’ for not wanting to work with you (when the reality is maybe they have a personal problem that would prevent them from signing the contract) — and it means that you don’t truly understand who you’re talking to. Why someone “should” do something is not enough, because it doesn’t address the mental barriers that they have about your product or service. We may think there must be something wrong with them, but the reality is there often are deeper reasons why it’s not working that range from the psychological, to their environment, to available resources.

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3. How I avoid 99% of petty arguments with my partner.

The best part about this 6-word question is that it not only applies to productivity and business, but to your personal relationships.

We’ve all heard about partners who nag on each other for not taking out the trash or making the bed, but that nagging assumes that your partner doesn’t want to do it because of either a character trait (like laziness) or because of you. It’s when you take it personally, that not emptying the dishwasher turns into a heated battle.

After being a relationship for 10 years like I have, you learn which of those battles to fight and which ones to drop because they’re just not worth it. And the last thing I want to do is argue about taking out the trash. So instead of nagging on your partner for why he or she hasn’t done what you’ve asked, despite you ‘being nice’, you want to understand what is preventing him or her from doing in the first place! Maybe in your partner’s mind, the task is less important than the joy of planning a date with you. Or maybe he or she is waiting to take out the trash until the day before the garbage guy comes. Your responsibility is to put your assumptions and side and find out what’s at the heart of the matter.

What to Do Today

If you’ve been spinning your wheels with trying to figure out how to get that one person to do that ‘thing’ for you, now’s the time to practice using this question and reap the rewards.

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One word of caution: This question is not meant to be asked in an angry tone like “Well, why haven’t you done it yet?” as you tap your foot with the impatience of someone who never gets their way. The question is meant to be asked in a softer tone, frustrations aside, and out of curiosity — because you actually don’t know the answer. It’ll not only make you more persuasive with half the effort, but it will improve your ability to empathize and communicate with anyone and get what you want the easy way.

Featured photo credit: Woman Standing On Red Rocks Celebrating Success via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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