There are a number of persuasion steps you have to implement in order to get someone to see your side of things, even/especially when it’s not necessarily in their best interest to. Everything from timing to approach to preparation is key for your success in an argument or debate. Here are ten persuasion steps you should always keep in mind.
1. Pick the right environment
You don’t want to try to persuade someone in a place they’re not already comfortable. One of the first persuasion steps is always to carefully choose when and where you’re going to have your debate. The best place is somewhere the person you’re persuading feels like he has the home field advantage, like their actual home, because they’ll feel less pressured. To determine the best time to persuade, pay attention to the person’s mood swings on a typical day and pick a period where their mood is on the upswing.
2. Start subtle
Don’t launch into an intense argument right off the bat. Rather, ease into it so that the person you’re persuading doesn’t immediately tune your words out. You might even want to start a conversation about an entirely different topic and gently nudge the subject in the right direction. The ideal scenario is when the person you’re trying to persuade thinks that they’re the one that brought the subject up.
3. Display confidence
Richard Nixon won the 1960 Presidential Debates according to people who listened on the radio, but John F. Kennedy was the clear winner to everyone with a television set because he looked confident, not sweating profusely like Nixon. If your debate is over the phone then you don’t have to worry about persuasion steps like this, but most persuasions are achieved in-person, so you need to act confident in your mannerisms and body language. Another big part of displaying confidence is actually being confidant, which is why you absolute need to…
4. Be prepared
Don’t try to persuade someone without knowing exactly how you’re going to go about it. If you’re trying to persuade someone to side with you politically, you can research facts and statistics to prove your point. If you’re persuading somebody to do something against their nature, look in advance for reasons that your suggestion is a sensible option for them. The rest of these persuasion steps will get you almost nowhere if you’re not already properly prepared for your verbal sparring match.
5. Predict counter-arguments
Don’t just limit preparation to opening statements. Think very carefully about the arguments your opponent will make in response to yours and plan accordingly. If you’re defending someone, for example, consider what the other person doesn’t like about who you’re defending and know in advance how to respond to those complaints.
6. Consider their needs
Really get into the mind of the person you’re persuading. What are they really after? Do they want things to be easier? Simpler? Do they want to make a decision that makes them feel good about themself? This is among the most important persuasion steps.
7. Appeal to reason
One of the most effective persuasion steps is an appeal to someone’s rational side. Emotions are unreliable, so cold hard facts are your best bet to change somebody’s mind. This step goes back to preparation. If you have the facts at your disposal, use them to effectively change someone’s mind.
8. Appeal to emotions
If all else fails, hit them on an emotional level. This is among the riskiest persuasion steps for reasons mentioned above, but it can also be one of the most powerful.
9. Make the decision seem urgent
When rushed, people are more prone to make poor decisions or decisions they otherwise wouldn’t make. If that’s the kind of decision you want someone to be making, this is the preparation step for you. If there’s no inherent hurry in what you’re trying to persuade, do what you can to create an urgency.
10. End with something positive
Absolutely do not end with an “I told you so.” Make the person you persuaded feel like they benefitted from your talk with them, even if it resulted in a different outcome than they expected. The more you can make it seem like a win-win scenario, the more likely someone will continue to see things your way even after you’ve left the room.