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December 4, 2022
Mind & Body

IMAGINE you had the ability to convince people to do anything you wanted

Sounds impossible? It’s actually not that difficult. But being able to convince people is a learned behaviour.

Some people, like salesmen and cult leaders, devote their lives to mastering the art of persuasion. It may sound grand, but their methods are quite straightforward when you break them down.

When you don’t have the authority to command people, you have to use subtle psychological means to persuade them. It takes careful planning and a lot of blagging. Here’s what it takes to make people change their minds.

Understand your audience

Before stating your case, it is important to understand the nature of your audience, who they are and why they think the way they do.

Doing so gives you two important advantages:

  1. You can empathize with them, establishing a human connection, and
  2. You can better construct your arguments to show why your view is more sound than theirs.

Then apply the principles below. Understand that these tips apply for professional and social settings.

And now, the ultimate persuasion tips

  1. Gain their trust

People will automatically be wary of anyone who’s trying to change their minds. This is why it’s paramount to gain their trust by convincing them that you are sincere and know what you’re talking about.

Show them why you should be heard. You must know what you’re talking about, and prove that there is a good reason why you think the way you do.

  1. Find common ground

Many people share similar ideas about what’s fair and desirable. Show your audience that your values and ideas mesh with their own. Again, you need to put yourself in their shoes, understand their concerns, and be sympathetic to their feelings.

Chopping off people’s heads Joffrey-style isn’t going to win you many fans.
  1. Structure it well

Any persuasive argument, be it a speech, an essay, or a sales pitch, has a clear structure. Verbally, a successful structure is about repetition and placement.

When listing reasons why people should listen to you, save your most powerful points for last, as they will linger in the minds of your captive audience. Also, repeat your most important arguments. Repetition establishes a pattern that remains in memory.

  1. Show both sides

Weigh the pros and cons of your ideas, as doing so will make you seem fair and reasonable to others. The trick here is to emphasise the pros and underplay the cons. Explain why the cons aren’t so bad, or how the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Never lie about the cons because if and when people find out about your deception, they’ll resent you. And they will never trust you again.

  1. Appeal to self-interest

You are more likely to convince someone of an idea if you show them what they stand to gain from it, as this is a question that will always be at the back of their minds.

For this to work, you’ll need to know what your audience’s needs are. Grab their attention by telling them you know what they want, then tell them how your idea will satisfy that.

  1. Feed their ego

Businesses call it “love-bombing“; others call it strategic flattery. Regardless of the name, complimenting people works – when done right. Find things that your audience takes pride in, such as their intelligence or their hobbies.

When you compliment people, it shows that you recognize their qualities. They’ll feel appreciated and more open to your words.

Have I told you how much you suit fur, King of the North
  1. Appeal to the authority

Everyone loves experts. Everyone listens to experts. If an expert says something, it must be true. So use them in your talk. Find out how your idea, or elements of it, have been approved or endorsed by specialists in this area.

  1. Create consensus

Most people are influenced by what others are doing. You need to show that what you want is approved by a large number of people. Use examples of how your ideas are successful elsewhere, or how others have enjoyed them.

You can also use a kind of reverse consensus: if what most people are doing is undesirable, show them why and convince them about your idea.

  1. Time your request well

You need to develop a sixth sense for good timing. Avoid approaching people with requests during times of great stress, anxiety or grief.

Learn to gauge the general mood and how receptive people will be to you. Look for periods of general confidence and high morale. Make others feel safe and self-assured if necessary.

  1. Be unique

It’s a simple law of economics: the more scarce something is, the higher its price. Make yourself or your ideas seem unique or rare, and people will listen more.

You can do this by either demonstrating that you hold exclusive information or by suggesting that there’s a competitor for what you have to offer.

convince people

  1. Be confident

If this is a phrase you find yourself reading far too often, there’s a good reason for it. It can’t be stressed enough, especially in business.

You have to believe in your ideas before you can convince others of it. If you have any nagging doubts, it will show. You are your own best advocate, so you better have faith in your cause.

  1. Be interesting

When you talk in a monotone with lots of “ums,” you will lose people the second you start talking. You need to be unique and energized, showing that you are excited about your idea.

Appeal to their senses as much as you can. If you’re making a presentation, use lots of visual and audio aids. An impressive spectacle can be as effective as eloquent sentences.

  1. Be reasonable

People like to think they are reasonable, so appeal to their sense of reason. Logic is highly valued in business, and your presentation should have a logical format.

Use the “if-then” argument a lot (eg. If you do this, then good things will happen).

  1. Be diplomatic

You must treat your audience as you would like to be treated. Speak in a proper tone; don’t yell or talk down to them. More importantly, don’t make them feel foolish for thinking differently from you.

You want to reason with people, not argue with them. Even if you win the argument, they will resent you inside. You’ll gain their respect if you keep it respectful.

  1. Be modest

No one likes a holier-than-thou egomaniac. Although you believe your idea is better, if you give off a sense of arrogance, people will stop listening.

Also, you shouldn’t assume you will convince people right away. Be realistic and accept that you may be turned down.

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Jessica West

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