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6 Persuasion Strategies To Help Others And Get What You Want

6 Persuasion Strategies To Help Others And Get What You Want

Have you ever noticed that just about everything we do in our lives and the results we achieve revolve around our ability to persuade and influence others? From getting your four year old to put their toys away, to getting someone you admire to go out with you, to convincing someone to employ you or simply getting your wife to leave the toilet seat up, we are doing it all day.

Interestingly, it’s something that we can’t avoid and is vital to our success, yet most people don’t want to talk about it. Many of us associate the concept of persuasion as something reserved for the call centre or the car showroom when it’s actually a far nobler pursuit.

Persuasion is about getting others to do what you know is in their best interests, and once you’ve learned how to do so, you often get to benefit too. Here are some suggestions to help you become better at the art of persuasion.

1. Think in tweets

We are all subjected to thousands of demands for our attention every day. Many of us are overwhelmed with emails at home and at work, text messages, media advertising, and incessant demands from our colleagues, customers, and our boss.

When you are trying to persuade anyone to do anything that you know will serve them well, they will tune you out if you drown them with more “noise.” Your message has to be simple, clear, and compelling. Summarise what you have to say that will help them in the form of a mindfully crafted tweet.

For example, when people ask me why they should consider buying my book Hamster to Harmony, this is what I tell them, using the tweet approach:

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“Some of us find ourselves wishing, hoping and dreaming for more. This book is for those who are tired of tiptoeing their way through life.”

2.  Focus on the goal

If you are going to persuade anyone to do anything, you need to have a very clear goal. That goal should contain how you want people to feel. You can talk all day long but if the people you are speaking to don’t connect emotionally with your words, they are unlikely to act.

I once worked for a CEO who insisted on calling the entire team together at 8:30 AM every Monday morning every week for a three-hour meeting. His goal was to ensure that he understood everything that had happened in the business the previous week and to ensure the team was focused on the new week.

It was a clear goal but it only served to make the executive team resent him and dread the Monday morning “inquisition.” Persuading him to switch to the Monday afternoon for an hour satisfied his goal but in a way that left him feeling that he was building his executive team rather than alienating them.

3. Make it about them

In the above example, the CEO was a very exacting and anxious man who needed to feel in absolute control, and he needed to feel that at the very start of the week. There was no point trying to persuade him to change those meetings without understanding what he needed and how any change to his preferred start of the week would impact him.

Once he understood the adverse impact that having such long, repetitive, and arduous meetings first thing on a Monday morning were having on his team, he was prepared to listen. More importantly, he was only persuaded to shift the meeting to a more sensible time when he felt he would have even more control through a management team who were given the space to at least gather their thoughts.

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4. Watch your language

Choose your words carefully to ensure that your audience not only understand your message, but feel it makes a significant difference.

In the current American presidential election campaign, Donald Trump is trying to get people to vote for him by using words like:

“Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens.”

Hillary Clinton has chosen to use words such as:

“We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one.”

Donald Trump appears to be trying to persuade his audience using the language of fear whilst conversely Hillary Clinton chooses words of hope.

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5. Play nicely

Remember when you were a child and you asked your mother if you could go outside to play with your friends? If she was anything like mine, you probably heard something like, “Yes, but play nicely.”

Those were powerful words from our mothers, and evidence that she understood the keys to a life of connection, success, and happiness. She also understood that if you were “likeable” enough, you could increase your chances of persuading anyone to do anything.

Playing nicely as adults and professionals is the same today as when we were small children. It involves smiling, listening carefully, being kind, being generous, and paying compliments.

6. Share a vision

As I began my long, hard journey to climb the corporate ladder over 30 years ago, my boss told me something which I didn’t realise at the time would have a profound impact on me personally and professionally. He said: “The only people who need to be motivated are the people who can’t see a future and it’s your job as their leader to help them to see a future.”

That one simple truth has always held great wisdom and power for me and I believe it’s at the heart of persuasion and influence.

The idea of persuading anyone to do anything must not only be based on their best interest but also offer them a glimpse of the possibilities and opportunities available to them. If you can help someone to see and feel a brighter future, no matter how small your idea or suggestion, you are more likely to succeed.

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I believe that if you embrace these 6 simple strategies you will learn to master the art of persuasion. Whilst you consider and practice these principles, please don’t follow the advice that some suggest as the means to successfully persuading people to do things.

1. Don’t create scarcity

Unless something is genuinely likely to soon become unavailable and you really don’t want someone to miss out on the benefits of the opportunity, don’t pretend it’s scarce.

2. Don’t be overbearing

Healthy persistence is one thing, but there is nothing worse than someone becoming a pest by repeatedly calling on you when you have already made your perspective very clear.

3. Don’t give to get

Reciprocity, similar to persistence, is a principle which can persuade people to respond positively to you and act on your idea. That said, if you give something to someone with the sole objective of receiving something in return, that isn’t good practice and something I would avoid.

4. Don’t rush them

Have you ever noticed that a magician or stage hypnotist will often try to rush a participant to choose the first answer that pops into their mind? If you have, then it’s worth knowing that the reason they do that is to increase the likelihood of you saying what they have already planted in your mind. When you are trying to persuade someone to do something that is genuinely in their own best interests, there is rarely, if ever, a need to rush them.

Featured photo credit: Endostock via dreamstime.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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