The Power of Persuasion
Persuasion is perceived by some as a skill akin to manipulation, a tool favored by con artists and charlatans. However, when viewed through a more neutral lens, it becomes clear that it’s actually an ability focused on crafting clear, compelling explanations to facilitate agreement.
This skill can play an extremely important role in anyone’s life. For example, you may have to persuade your boss that you need assistance with some aspect of your job, or you could need to convince your family to see your way on a topic of political or personal importance to you. Alternatively, you may want to use it for simpler things — perhaps to cheer up a friend or talk someone into watching your favorite movie. Either way, there’s plenty of use for persuasion in your day-to-day life.
How Persuasive People Act
Luckily, persuasion is about more than natural talent. It’s an art — and just like any other art, it can be learned, practiced, and mastered.
Highly persuasive people generally adopt a few key habits when engaging with the world around them:
1. They Behave With Intentionality
Deeply persuasive people recognize their talents and reserve them for when it’s most important. They understand that constantly trying to persuade other people can actually minimize the power of their voice. Therefore, they usually refrain from pushing until a critical matter is at stake. As a result, those around them are more likely to listen when they do advocate for something.
2. They Listen
Persuasive people are generally confident in what they have to say, so rather than focusing only on their side of things, they pay close attention when others speak. This gives them insight into information such as: how receptive others are to their arguments, what points of contention they need to address, and what points of agreement they can build upon.
3. They Establish a Personal Connection
As social creatures, humans are more likely to be convinced of something if they feel emotionally invested. One important skill that persuasive people have is the ability to connect with their audience as a feeling, emotional being, and they don’t let themselves be consumed by the argument. They do this by showing empathy for others, finding a common goal, and highlighting shared interests.
4. They Validate Sound Arguments
An important part of persuasion is making sure you don’t alienate your audience or debate partner. When someone presents a reasonable line of thought, a persuasive person recognizes the value in agreeing with logical ideas rather than dismissing them simply because they’re inconvenient. When people feel heard and validated, they’re more likely to offer their consideration in return.
5. They Know When To Stop
When presented with new ideas, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by a barrage of information. The delicate balance of persuasion is between presenting an argument clearly, providing enough supporting information, and then gracefully making space in the conversation for questions and other perspectives. That way, the audience is not inundated by a wall of arguments or ideas that they cannot process in the moment.
6. They Recognize the Importance of Space
As a general rule, deep thoughts and beliefs don’t take root quickly. They need time to tumble along the rapids of the mind before they can take hold in someone’s mental riverbeds. Truly persuasive people are aware of this process and can recognize when the most beneficial thing for their argument is time and space. Though it can be frustrating to walk away without knowing whether they’ve convinced the other party, truly persuasive people also know the value of patience.
7. They Demonstrate Enthusiasm
A passionately presented argument is certain to gain an audience’s attention and be memorable in the long run. Show passion and excitement as you share your ideas, and you will be off to a strong start.
8. They Bring Themselves to the Conversation
The most persuasive people bring their unique mannerisms and figures of speech to the interaction, and they let their authentic emotions show. A person’s arguments are more compelling when they’re being genuine and honest.
9. They Approach Ideas From Multiple Perspectives
Persuasive people recognize the importance of being realistic. Because no idea is perfect, they present possible pitfalls that people may be concerned about, then they go over how those concerns can be addressed. This helps the audience trust that the presenter understands and is willing to resolve the potential flaws in their argument, making it easier to have faith in the claims being made.
10. They Consider Format
Some ideas are best explained with visual aids, others through writing, and still others in casual conversation. Persuasive people think about how their audience can best absorb different ideas, and they present their thoughts in that format whenever possible. This can turn difficult concepts into something more easily digestible.
Using Persuasion for Yourself
Persuasion is a valuable, nuanced skill. It can be built and finetuned over time. Consider your own thoughts on the art of persuasion. What images and feelings does it bring to mind? Can you think of a time when it was important and useful in your life? It’s wise to analyze your own perspective. From there, you can better understand your personal persuasive techniques and habits. Do they work? Are you comfortable using them? Don’t underestimate or dismiss the value of this skill. You never know when it may prove extremely useful.
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