Can anyone master the art of persuasion? Or can we all become persuasive? The psychology of learning says yes. We can learn and unlearn behaviors. So if you want to become a persuasive person, there’s a hundred percent chance that you’ll become one.
Politicians and business tycoons around the world have mastered the art of persuasion. Needless to say that in order to win elections and business deals, you need to have powerful persuasion techniques. This is the reason why both politicians and businesses use persuasive advertisements on different kinds of media.
The question is, how can you become a persuasive person? While there are hundreds of books that will teach you on this subject, this article will teach you some basics and fundamental principles of persuasion. Interested? Okay, learn more from the list below.
The nature of persuasion
1. To persuade is not to manipulate. Persuasion is a process of changing people’s attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, and object through written or visual presentations. Manipulation (psychological manipulation) on the other hand is a process of changing people’s behavior or perception through abusive or deception tactics. Persuasive people know the difference between these two processes. It is simple anyway. Using a deceptive strategy to manipulate other people is definitely not persuasion.
2. Persuasion works better on persuadable. Of course, virtually everyone can be persuaded, but those people who are still in the process of decision making are the perfect target of persuasion. This is the reason why politicians spend millions of dollars just to get undecided voters vote for them. They understand that focusing on those people can give them better opportunity to accumulate a considerable number of votes in the upcoming election.
3. Context and timing are important components of persuasion. Persuasion techniques better work in right place and the right time. Why do you think media ads work until this time? What makes them effective? Simple, companies understand that in order to sell their products, they need to understand both context and time. That’s why all ads have something in common – they illustrate first that there is a problem, then they offer solutions that only they have. The result? People will most likely subscribe to their ideas or suggestions because of the fear – the fear that if they don’t do so, they will be in danger. People wants and needs are dependent on their location and time.
4. Persuasion means consistency. To make people interested in what you are talking about is to stay consistent with your principles and ideas. Being consistent with your statement on an issue captivates other people’s attention. As a result, people will most likely think that you are a reliable source of information. If that happens, people will become easier to believe in you.
The Components of Persuasion
1. Reciprocity. Most of the time, people tend to reciprocate good deeds of their fellows. So if you have something that is important to someone, he/she will return the favor to you. Reciprocity works in all cultures around the world. This general behavioral tendency is due to evolution process. Our ancestors survived because of the give and take – especially the returning of favor. To make persuasion process works faster, you need to give something in value to other people first before you can easily convince them to believe in you.
2. Persistency. As discussed above, persistence plays a significant role in the persuasion process. Great leaders are not only rhetorically genius but also persistent in their message and values. The reason for this is, people examine the credibility of the source of information. And one of the components of being credible is consistency. Swinging your stand on either side of the argument from time to time shakes people’s trust. So you better maintain your words along the way.
3. Praise people. One of the most effective ways to make people trust you is through praising. Simple compliment can create rapport between you and others. This is most effective especially on people who see themselves as neglected individuals. Employees for example who never appreciated by their boss despite of their good performance will feel good if you compliment them. People like them are looking for people who understand them and feel sympathy for them. But of course it must be an honest compliment.
4. Achievable goals. Most people only believe in you if you show them an achievable goals. This does not mean you should set low goals. Instead you target a goal that is within your capacity to achieve. At the end of the day, achieving higher than your goals is rewarding than being fall short of what has been set. In other words, be realistic about your goals. Because when people expect something, they want to see it at the end.
5. Don’t underestimate. Do not undermine the capability of other people. If you are selling something, do not think that people are not interested in your offer. All you can do is lay your offer. But let people to decide whether to buy or not to buy your products. Because no one really knows what people are up to – what they want and what they need. The only way to determine it is to give them the freedom to choose.
6. Scarcity awareness. Most of the time people buy products that are scarce. This phenomenon is due to fear and elegance. Buying due to fear happens when primary needs are scarce. Scarcity threatens needs’ satisfaction. Thus people tend to rush to markets to buy the goods. On the other hand, elegance has significant impact on buying behavior. This happens when someone who has buying capacity buys something (e.g. limited edition watch, car, cell phone, etc.) that is not a primary need but provides significant impact on social status. In other words, people tend to buy stuffs that are considered highly valuable – value depends on supply and demand. Most things become valuable when supply is limited.
7. Sense of urgency. Most seasoned sales persons use this technique to persuade customers. What they do is to make customers aware that their offer is only affordable at present and may not in the next day. This sense of urgency forces customer to think and decide fast to afford the stuff. Doing this you need to instill in people’s mind the tremendous value of your product – that if they don’t buy it right now it’s going to be a big waste for them. Use your creativity to execute this powerful technique.
8. Great impression. First impression is vital in instilling trust in people’s mind. When they see at the first time that you look someone they can count on, they will most likely trust you. But make sure that they get what they expected from you. In other words, prove to them that you are indeed a trustworthy person. Therefore their impression must be congruent with your actual trait or behavior.
9. Truthful evaluation. Although telling the truth sometimes hurt, doing it in a right time and a right way makes people think that you’re concern to them. Making honest comments without any hidden goal is starting point to a better relationship. You’ve got to make it clear that your purpose is to make things right not to humiliate others. It is in this way that people will consider you as a genuine person.
10. Building rapport. To gain trust from others, you need to show your clean intention. The best thing to start is to build a good connection with other people. Know what they want and their passions. Share your personal stories too. Build an ease environment. Although it sounds hard, it really helps you capture their trust. During this process, it is important that you establish communication with them on a regular basis.
11. Flexibility in behavior. Flexibility means a lot in the persuasion process. Behavioral flexibility allows you to effectively connect with different unique individuals. Remember that everyone has unique pattern of traits and behavior. If you are a person who follows one set of behavioral principle, then you might find it hard to relate to other people who behave differently. So flexibility will help you deal with the complexity of persuasion process.
12. Make your energy contagious. Needless to say, energy is necessary either in public speech or in business demo. But to have energy is not enough. You’ve got to be contagious. You need to transfer that energy to your audience, or to other people to whom you are talking to. Make them excited and motivated. You can see this among great speakers. They make the crowd live and energetic. Being able to transfer your energy does not only make talking process exciting but also heart lifting. Make your listener active.
13. Communicate clearly. Clear communication is the heart of persuasion process. This is the most important thing – express ideas the clearest way possible. To be able to communicate effectively, you need to size up the people you’re interested in. What this means is that, you need to determine the receiver of your message. People of different ages have different capability of absorbing the message. In other words, deliver your message in such a way that it is easy to understand by your receiver. You cannot talk to children using complex words. So keep it simple so that no one will miss your ideas.
14. Ample preparation. Preparation creates confidence. When you deliver a speech or a discussion, you need to be confident. Confidence is undoubtedly one of the most vital ingredients of persuasion. How can you persuade somebody to believe in your message if you are not confident in what you say? It is impossible. Take everything into consideration.
15. Certainty. Along with being confident, you need to show people that you are certain on what you say. Again, this comes from ample preparation. Study your topic of discussion and make some research on areas you’re not sure. Provide reliable information as backup in case people ask questions out of the box. If possible, provide scientific explanations or facts to make your point stronger. This will not only help you gain confidence but also makes people think you’re an expert. As a result, they will most likely believe in your ideas.
Bottom line is you’ve got to be believable in the eyes of others. If you will be able to create that charisma, you can be able to persuade them easily. So the successful process of persuasion starts in you.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.