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How to Be More Persuasive

How to Be More Persuasive


    Have you ever wished you could be more charming? You know – like someone who instinctively knows how to get the right people on side at just the right time?

    The reality is that we all need to get along with people at some point in our lives, whether it be at work or home – so it really does pay off to be able to persuasively state your opinions when you need to.

    Take work for example – you may not realize it, but regardless of your official job title – it’s likely that you are frequently in a situation where you’ll need to sell either your ‘point of view’ or yourself for that matter! Simple things like ‘asking for a day off’ or ‘giving your boss an update on your progress’ all require an element of selling.

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    And the most important part of selling is the ability to be ‘persuasive’: to be able to present your case in a favorable light that will get you the best outcome. Lets face it – the more you are able to ‘influence’ people around you, the more you can achieve in life.

    Rapport is one of the most underutilized methods of persuasion. Many people do it naturally, while others are unknowingly behaving in ways that ‘break’ rapport and create adverse reactions. A large element of rapport boils down to body language. Subconsciously our body language will build deeper relationships with those we naturally admire and weaken connections with those we may be intimidated by or less impressed with.

    Let’s explore a few handy tips to use body language, voice matching and observation skills to your advantage so that you can become naturally more persuasive.

    5 Tips To Become More Persuasive By Building Rapport

    1. ‘Match’ your body language to the person you’re talking to.

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    So if they cross their right leg, then you cross your right leg too, if they put their left hand on their hip, you do the same. Be careful not to be too obvious with this – subtlety is key!

    2. ‘Mirror’ your body language.

    Similar to ‘matching’, you simply ‘mirror’ body language. So if the person you’re speaking with makes a hand gesture with their right hand, when you start to speak you would make a similar hand gesture with the opposite hand (so it’s like you are mirroring them). Again – be sure to be subtle!

    3. Change the volume of your voice to suit the person you are speaking with.

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    If their voice is soft then it pays off not to shout at them! Similarly if they have a loud booming voice, you should adjust your voice so that it is confident and loud to match their style

    4. Change the speed of your voice so it’s in time with your conversation.

    If your peer speaks very slowly the worst thing you could do is talk really quickly at them as this will break rapport and result in frustration and feelings of awkwardness! It’s important to match the ‘pace’ of the person you are speaking with.

    5. Notice what’s important to them.

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    Listen for words or topics that keep coming up. This is what’s important to them, so they will feel like you’re really listening to them if you repeat the same words or focus on the same topics when it’s your turn to talk. An example: if your boss keeps using the word ‘priorities’ then make sure you also use this same word when you are reviewing your workload for the week. This really makes them feel understood and builds your relationship at a subconscious level

    The purpose of rapport is to build a deeper connection with someone so be careful not to go over the top with your approach. If someone feels like you are ‘mimicking’ them then you’ll get a bad reaction! Remember that subtlety and sincerity is key!

    Have a go at using the methods I mention above and notice how much easier it is to be persuasive once you have built up some rapport first! For example if you need to ask a favour of someone, don’t steam straight in and ask them! Take the time to build up rapport by focusing on the other person first – you’ll be surprised by how much this will impact their response to your request. And you might just find they are more willing to help you!

    Once you’ve nailed the rapport side of things the next step is to learn how to win any argument

    (Photo credit: The Bait via Shutterstock)

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    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2020

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

    We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

    “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

    Are we speaking the same language?

    My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

    When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

    Am I being lazy?

    When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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    Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

    Early in the relationship:

    “Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

    When the relationship is established:

    “Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

    It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

    Have I actually got anything to say?

    When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

    A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

    When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

    Am I painting an accurate picture?

    One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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    How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

    Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

    What words am I using?

    It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

    Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

    Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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    Is the map really the territory?

    Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

    A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

    I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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