Persuasion can be a highly effective tool when it comes to your workplace and the business world. You can use persuasion to acquire new customers, push business deals in your favor, and gain loyal followers. However, true persuasion is an art – and a highly useful skill when used properly.
Before I dive into the right way to persuade, I need to address what you should avoid. When incorrectly used, persuasion can be a dirty and irresponsible tactic. Think of monarchies ruled by one individual who hold too much power over the population, or trickery used by an employee for their own career gain.
Persuasion is not manipulation.
The image I just described should very much be avoided when looking to persuade – force will only take you so far. Using force to persuade will always be a temporary solution when looking to make long term social growth in a business setting. After all, true persuasion is meant to develop relationships – where each party understands each other and works together for equal advancement.
Effective Persuasion begins with developing a common ground.
When you are friendly with people, you tend to be more open to their point of view. This occurs because you know them well and may have some common interests. Even if the two of you don’t share every belief in the world – having a little bit of common ground can go a long way.
Common ground can include similar personality traits, shared interests, or even mutual respect for past achievements. If you and one of your co-workers graduated from the same university, wouldn’t you be a little more open to their viewpoint, compared to another co-worker who went to a school you never heard of?
The gateway to effective business persuasion starts with a common ground. It’s like the contact you have before your next big job interview – which can be a powerful tool if used properly. You only need a slight advantage over the competition to create a lasting impact.
Preparation heightens your ability to persuade.
Being unprepared in business can be a very dangerous thing. We need safety nets, backup plans, and counter arguments, because there are too many changing variables in business to keep track of. Even when you come up with a solution to a problem another issue might arise – it’s like trying to shoot at multiple moving targets at once. And if you want to be a professional when it comes to persuading, your preparation (or lack thereof) will be a critical factor.
Expect the unexpected.
We will never be able to plan exactly when a problem will arise, but we can be prepared for when that unfortunate time comes. Do your research and look to the past to see what problems keep coming up – and try to find a pattern. You can also compare current issues to past ones. Maybe a “new” work situation is actually just a similar problem masked in chaos. If you have fixed it once, you can fix it again.
You should never fear the unknown – instead you should embrace it. When it comes down to preparation, your research skills need to be on point.
Consider every perspective.
It wasn’t until after college that I fully grasped the concept of effective study habits. Sure, you can read up on the course material, and maybe even make some colorful flashcards. But you need to think outside of the box, to understand the subject as a whole.
What questions would you ask on the exam?
This is the kind of thinking that transforms average students into exceptional students – and a mindset that can carry over to business. You will gain a better understanding once you place yourself in another perspective (the professor in the above example).
Maybe you’re about to give a speech, a presentation, or are simply engaged in a conversation with a co-worker. What types of new questions could you be asking? Once you start looking at concepts with a different perspective, your level of comprehension will increase.
There is never a straight road that travels from A to B. Instead, it’s long, has many curves with short cuts, and dead ends. When you begin to think about and understand these various routes, you will have the perspective needed to persuade.
Show there’s room for improvement.
You can build on the theme of common ground discussed above by showing your audience there’s room for improvement. Why would someone want to be persuaded to begin with?
It’s simple really – it comes down to showing this person or group that the end result will be better than the current system put in place. Just keep in mind that some people might be easier to convince than others – compared to the opposite group that might require more convincing. It really boils down to individual personality traits.
After all, when you persuade someone, they are stepping away with what they’re comfortable with and trying your approach instead. It’s completely understandable that this may scare some people away – they would argue their way works just fine and its safe right?
Wrong. A system, practice, or procedure put in place may actually be outdated and inefficient. Would you call that safe?
If you have strong ideas that will work, and improve the process, it’s up to you to show your co-workers or boss the untapped potential. So gather data, evidence, and as much information as you can to show your audience there’s room for improvement. It will only make persuasion that much easier.
Be confident when you speak.
Confidence not only brings all of the tools listed above together, but it’s the determining factor on whether or not your persuasion has worked. Your audience will only feel truly comfortable if you express confidence and believe what you’re saying.
Have you ever been persuaded by someone who was nervous or expressed doubt? Probably not. When you are looking to change someone’s opinion, you need to be confident in your way of thinking.
Language is extremely important, but if you don’t have a great speech to go along with your PowerPoint presentation, you might as well not be there. Data and research will only take you so far – your ability to express confidence in the subject matter is essential for effective persuasion.
Persuasion doesn’t happen by accident. There are many critical steps that need to be taken in order to achieve the end result – getting someone to agree with you. Persuasion is truly a skill that requires time and effort to master, and these examples will surly help on your journey to become a professional in the expertise.