Your ability to influence the people around you can have a huge impact on your career. Whether you’re asking for a bigger budget, more effort from your team or support for a new venture, being persuasive is a huge part of career success. Get what you need without begging, manipulating or yelling.
Here are a few guidelines to make you more persuasive:
- Communicate calmly, confidently and clearly. Look and sound confident. Use confident body language (such as eye contact, a smile and good posture) and simplify what you’re saying. Don’t use jargon or technical terms. “If you can’t explain your concept or point of view to an 8th grader, such that they could explain it with sufficient clarity to another adult, it’s too complicated,” suggests Jason Nazar for forbes.com.
- Prepare. Know your subject well. Consider possible reasons the person might not agree with what you’re asking for.
- Point out the positive. Emphasize positive aspects of what you’re proposing. But do be honest. Protect your credibility—you’ll need it the next time you deal with this person.
- Offer social proof. “When the course of action is not clear … people tend to do what other people similar to them do,” writes Steve Roesler for allthingsworkplace.com. So if you want to convince someone to do something, show how others similar to them have already done it.
- Listen well and ask questions. Listen to find out how receptive the person you’re talking to is. If they have objections, what are they? Ask questions that could lead the person to tell you about a desire to do something. Listen closely to their answers. Listen for areas where they agree with you and build on those.
- Mirror speech and actions. Roesler also suggests that we are more easily influenced by people similar to ourselves. By repeating what someone has said (using some of the same words), you become more influential. (Don’t reword what they said, because this makes it appear that you’re correcting them.) This mirroring goes for body language as well: If the person you’re trying to persuade is leaning back in his or her chair, do the same. (Don’t go overboard or be obvious with mirroring.)
- Show empathy. Look at things from someone else’s perspective. Listen to negatives. Find common ground and shared viewpoints. We don’t live in a black-and-white world, so don’t argue over the facts and opinions. The other person’s perspective is valid, and if you reinforce this, they will be more open to your view.
- Be flexible and accept baby steps. “Once we buy into something or someone, we tend to become more committed to it or them,” suggests Roesler. So, if someone agrees to a small step by saying yes to any part of what you’re asking, accept it gladly. Those small steps can lead up to bigger agreements in future. Be open-minded.
- Build a consistent, reliable image. How you’ve dealt with people in the past will affect your dealings with them now. Keep promises. Be honest. Follow through. Reciprocate.
Stop crossing your fingers and hoping things will work out. Influencing others to take action or come around to your way of thinking is within your grasp … and helps you get results. Study how you are persuaded … and build your skills.