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Published on August 18, 2020

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence

When we hear about increasing our influence or using persuasive techniques, sometimes we tend to think of someone who is being manipulative, that they have a sneaky way of getting what they want by wielding some power over others. Maybe we even think about someone who is playing mind games in order to gain control of a situation or others.

The reality is that being influential helps us in many aspects of our everyday life. Since we interact and communicate with people in all areas of our life, the ability to influence is extremely beneficial. Let’s look at 7 powerful persuasive techniques to increase your influence.

What Is Influence?

Influence is the power to have an important effect on someone or something. If one person influences another person, they are changing the other person in some way. It could be the decision they are going to make about something, or they way they think about a certain topic, or a way they go about something.

It involves getting people to change their minds about a topic or subject and to act in a certain way by acknowledging their feelings and bringing them around to a similar way of thinking or seeing something. Influencing others can make just about any job or tough situation easier for everyone involved.

Really, it’s about getting several people aligned on a specific topic and moving forward in a positive manner that everyone thinks is best.

How Persuasive Techniques Help You Influence Others

The ability to bring other people around to your way of thinking without forcing them to or without coercion is incredibly beneficial. If you are a manager or leader, you need to be able to show people that you know what you are doing and motivate them to work in a productive manner.

If you are in sales, you need to be able to demonstrate that your product or service has high value. In personal relationships, the ability to influence your partner or friends to your way of thinking has a way of getting multiple people on the same page and working towards the same goal or game plan.

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The bottom line is that using persuasive techniques as a form of influence is a top way to get others to see things the same way you do and to gain buy-in to move forward. This translates very well in the workplace, but is also very important in our personal relationships.

Where Persuasive Techniques Work Best

There are many situations where influence will help you, but work and personal life are two of the main ones. Let’s see how you can use influence to your advantage.

Work

Let’s say you’re in sales. When you work in sales, your job is to sell something that your company offers. This could be a service like window cleaning or shipping, or it could be an actual product like paper towels. In any event, you can be sure you have lots of competition. Your job is to know how your product or service stacks up against the competition and sell it based on the positive aspects of said product or service.

When speaking to potential buyers, you have to be able to influence them to the point where they see that your product or service is the right solution for them and their company or customers. You, of course, must also believe it’s the best solution.

Another work example would be if you are a manager. As you work to get your team working well together on a project, you must have strong influencing skills. This comes into play as you set the direction for the project and lead the team to success.

If someone thinks something should be done a different way, we will see soon how listening and acknowledging them is critical. As you navigate your way through the project, you as the leader will be making the decisions, and it’s important to be able to show and lead others to the path of success. Influencing them along the way will prove incredibly valuable.

Personal Life

Let’s say you and your spouse have different perspectives on how much you should be saving for retirement. Your spouse says saving 3% of your income is plenty for when retirement comes around. You feel very strongly through your research and discussions with your financial advisor that you need to be saving at least 6% or 7% to reach your retirement goal. How are you going to change your spouse’s mind so they see the benefit of saving more for retirement?

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By influencing them to see things from your perspective and point of view! Of course, you both must agree on what the end result or number should look like. You will most likely need to show your spouse various charts and projections and specialist advice to see if you can get them to change their mind to match your vision.

Now, let’s take a look at 7 powerful persuasive techniques to increase your influence.

7 Powerful Persuasive Techniques to Increase Your Influence

These can be used individually or combined depending on the situation you’re facing. Use them wisely, and you’ll find you’re getting more of what you want!

1. Connect with Others

One of the easiest and quickest techniques to influencing others is to simply connect with them. Connecting means being present and responsive, spending time with them, and being a good coworker or friend or whatever the relationship entails. When we feel connected to someone, we are much more likely to listen to their advice and their point of view on things.

Compare this to someone you don’t like trying to get you to do something. Who are you most likely going to listen to and potentially be influenced by? The person you like, of course!

2. Respect the Opinion of Others

Similar to creating a connection, when you respect the opinion of others, it goes a long way towards helping you influence them when the time is right. It boils down to the need to feel understood by others.

There is almost no greater need than the need to be understood by other people. When we feel understood, we don’t feel alone; we feel like there is someone who understands how we feel. When you show someone that you respect their opinion, it makes them feel understood. It also makes them feel like their opinion is of importance to you and that you value and respect their point of view. This will earn you some serious points and is one of the most powerful persuasive techniques.

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3. Make Others Feel Important

Along the same lines as respecting someone’s opinion, it is also beneficial to make them feel important. Feeling valued and appreciated in the workplace is the number one factor in job satisfaction. It has been shown over and over that people who feel valued and important in the workplace are the most satisfied with their job, boss, and company.

If you have the ability to make someone feel important, it will definitely help you in influencing them when the need is there. I think about the times when my manager tells me I’ve done a great job on something and that my skills in XYZ are hugely beneficial to the company, and it always makes me feel great. When she then follows up with getting me involved or onboarded with a project soon after a comment like that, I am much more likely to happily agree.

4. Build Your Credibility

As you build your credibility in your area of expertise over time, you find that more and more people seek you out[1]. They respect the results and accomplishments you’ve received, and this builds  your credibility. As your credibility increases, you find yourself in situations more and more often when people seek you out for advice. In a way, they are asking to be influenced by you due to your knowledge and expertise in certain areas.

On a personal level, I have been recruiting sales talent for over a decade. Needless to say, I’ve become pretty good at it. As such, I am asked to be involved in many sales-related initiatives that aren’t even related to recruiting.

On a personal level, I have been into fitness and wellness for many years. Because of this, I have friends and family who reach out to me fairly regularly to ask my advice on a new diet plan or workout regime they are thinking about trying. This all comes down to my credibility in certain areas. We all have them, and in these areas we are able to exert influence quite regularly.

5. Reciprocity

Have you ever had someone ask you for a favor after buying you lunch or dinner? This is the power of reciprocity at work. When someone does a favor or something nice for you, it almost always triggers an overwhelming feeling of obligation that you must do something nice for them next.

From a marketing perspective, you might see this as the company throwing in something “free” or “extra” for your purchase. Because you feel like they are doing you a favor by including the “free” item, it makes you feel stronger about making the purchase.

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In relationships, this works very well when you do a favor or help someone out in some way. They then feel obligated to help you out as well. This is a powerful tool in your persuasive toolkit.

6. Scarcity

Scarcity is an influencing technique you see many times in marketing[2]. When we see things advertised like “limited time offer” or “Memorial Day Sale Only,” it creates a sense of urgency in us. We feel like we have to hurry up or miss out on this fantastic offer they are only giving us on a very limited basis. And we don’t want to miss out! They are pushing our scarcity button.

This can also be used by us as individuals as one of our persuasive techniques. If we are leading a team and we say things like “We need to be the first to market on this or else our main competitor is going to get a big advantage,” it makes us want to get to market first. We don’t want to miss out on being the number one company.

It can also be used on an individual basis. Our manager might suggest we study for and achieve an additional certification that will help us get better at some component of our job. If we don’t hurry up and get with it, we might miss out on the next promotion.

7. Give People What They Want

Finally, a great influencing technique is to give people what they want. You accomplish this by helping others see that whatever issue you are trying to influence will positively impact them.

For example, let’s say your firm has an opportunity to land a big new client you are excited about. You also know it’s going to take a huge amount of work to put the winning proposal together to land the client. A way to help influence your team to come together and work hard on that proposal is to share with them how landing this big new client could positively impact their yearly bonus or career growth. I mean, being the team that lands the biggest new deal for the year is bound to reap them praise and possibly compensation, as well as help grow their careers. You’ve shown them how working towards this goal will give them something they want. Well done!

The Bottom Line

Look at you, you’re quite the influencer now aren’t you? We’ve looked at how powerful persuasive techniques can help you increase you ability to influence others. In many ways, influencing others is really all about getting people to work together to achieve a common goal. I think we can all agree how great it feels to work together to achieve more.

More on Persuasive Techniques

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Mat Apodaca

On a mission to share about how communication in the workplace and personal relationships plays a large role in your happiness

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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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