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7 Psychological Tricks That Make You A More Persuasive Person

7 Psychological Tricks That Make You A More Persuasive Person

Maybe you need to persuade a friend to go on a holiday with you, a colleague to see your point of view or get your boss to give you that promotion. You may have to close a sales deal, counsel somebody to avoid self-harming behavior or persuade someone to do you a favor. Whatever the situation, you will need to be more persuasive.

Magicians and advertisers are using hidden persuasion techniques and manipulative tricks which are rarely obvious. The only problem is that they are not so willing to reveal these so we will have to resort to more mundane hacks which are nevertheless more than effective.

Choosing your words carefully will be an enormous advantage. But body language and other tactics will help you to deliver your message or present your case much more effectively. Here are 7 tricks you should keep in mind when you want to be more persuasive.

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1. You use emotional intelligence (EQ)

Not many people realize that emotion al intelligence is the innate ability we may possess to recognize, understand and manage emotions. This is a powerful tool in persuading people to convince them that certain actions are no brainers. Martin Luther King Jr. and his speechwriter Clarence Jones knew this very well. It was a clever combination of indignation, reason, anger and hope. Just reflect on the emotions he aroused when he said that a land “sweltering with the heat of oppression” could be “transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

In normal situations, you will demonstrate your EQ by showing social awareness by being conscious of the emotions and feelings of the people you are dealing with. This helps you to empathize and you show that you see where they are coming from. It helps you build a rapport and a stronger bond which are essential elements in the process of persuasion.

2. You use body language effectively

Albert Mehrabian is current professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California and he has done extensive research on non verbal communication. His work shows that when words fail to convince or persuade, body language wins the day and will be the more effective way of communication. That is why it is so important to pay attention to the way we stand, sit, talk, use eye contact and how we wave our arms about!

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Imagine trying to persuade someone to vote for an issue in a referendum. You may spout a slogan with arms folded, no eye contact or mumble something unclearly. It is obvious that the person will notice your body language much more and will neither be impressed nor persuaded.

3. You prefer face to face contact

You might be tempted to use an email to make a difficult request or a phone call. But when it comes to being more persuasive, nothing beats face to face contact. Next time, take a walk down the corridor and talk to the person rather than using the phone. It is also good exercise! In politics, there are lots of studies that show that face to face contact is the most effective method of all in persuading people to vote for a candidate or cause.

4. You know the power of touch

There are lots of studies on how the power of touch can influence and persuade people whether in personal relationships or in business. We know that waiters will be tipped more if they learn the art of unobtrusive touching. There are research studies on shoppers who were touched who spent more time in the store and bought more! Time and time again, studies show that the power of touch tends to put people in a better mood and has a powerful healing effect. Touching makes people more open to requests and persuasion. While this is powerful, you need to be aware that certain cultural and religious customs might regard it as an intrusion. It is also very interesting to reflect on the fact that the healing power of touch has almost always been avoided by psychotherapists.

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5. You know the power of active listening

Persuasive people are not great talkers, they are great listeners. It works almost every time. Why? Well if you want to persuade, you must first find out how likely they are to accept your idea or request. Then, you have to find out whether there are any obstacles, objections or doubts. The most important thing of all is to be ready when you spot the openings for agreement which is when you will go for the kill and capitalize on it. Above all, you are in a stronger position when you know the other side of the argument. It pays to listen!

6. You know how fast to speak

In a fascinating study done by the University of Michigan, researchers found that the rate of speech when persuading was an important, and often, overlooked factor. Speech rates, pitch and fluency were all measured in telephone interviewers where they were trying to persuade people to take part in a survey. The optimal speed of speech was about 3.5 words per second which is moderately fast. Also, the interviewers who built in 4 or 5 pauses every minute were more successful. Speaking too quickly was perceived as being suspicious (the classic fast talker!). Speaking too slowly gives the impression of being too pedantic or less intelligent. Also, researchers found that being too lively and enthusiastic was off putting in many cases.

7. You are aware of the value of flexibility

If you are trying to persuade somebody to do something, think like you or buy from you, you are aware of the enormous benefits flexibility can bring. We can learn from young children here who have a variety of behaviors which usually help them get what they want. They can go though the usual list of crying, sulking, bargaining, pleading and even charming you before you give in and give them what they so desperately want. Parents always say “No” which is often ineffective. The lesson we can learn from this is that we need a more flexible approach as regards behaviors when we are involved in the persuasion process. Being open minded and never dogmatic will also help enormously.

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As we have seen, the art of persuasion is a fascinating area. Let us know in the comments if you have perfected the art with some examples, if you are willing to share them!

Featured photo credit: April Lewis and Carol French lead a discussion about emotional intelligence/Oregon Department of Transportation via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

More Tips Improving Listening Skills

Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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