Persuading people to change their minds or accept your ideas is a routine part of working life.
We do it when proposing projects to our bosses, seeking support from a co-worker and persuading a customer to buy our service or product.But how much thought do you put into your persuasion techniques? Learning a little about how people change their attitudes can help make you a more effective communicator and persuader.
Think about how you could use these suggestions the next time you want to bring someone over to your way of thinking:
- Make sure you are absolutely clear about where you stand before you try to persuade someone else. And don't try it unless you believe you have a reasonable chance of succeeding.
- Build your arguments according to what you want to accomplish. Do you just want someone to acknowledge that your approach has some merit? Or do you want that person to buy your ideas wholesale?
- You'll also want to tailor your arguments to your audience. Knowing who they are and what's important to them will help you make the right appeal.
- The most straightforward way to persuade people is by giving strong, reasonable arguments. But these work well only if the other person is willing to analyze your arguments, can understand what you're saying and finds the issue personally relevant.
- If you're persuading someone who isn't very interested in the topic, or doesn't want to think very hard about it, even strong arguments won't get you very far. Those people will be more influenced by other factors. Some examples: your credibility, appearance, expertise, likability and trustworthiness; whether your audience is comfortable; and whether they can identify with you.
But take note: These peripheral factors are less likely to make people change their attitudes permanently.
- Time your debate carefully. Don't try it when the other person won't be willing or able to concentrate on your arguments (for example, at the end of a tiring, crazy work day).
- Some people are impressed and persuaded by speakers who use several arguments to make a case. But this could backfire if the arguments are weak or repetitive.
- If possible, let the other person experience your argument for himself or herself. For example, if you are trying to change the way someone answers the phone, let that person try your way to see how it works.
- Use powerful speech patterns - strong words, well-timed pauses, an unwavering tone. Avoid saying "umm," "er," "kinda," or "maybe." "Also, some people believe that a person who speaks rapidly is very knowledgeable.
- Stay cool and unflappable at all costs.
- Be reasonable about how often you argue. Some folks think people who are willing to argue are strong and powerful. But if you argue too much about everything, people may believe that it's too much trouble to deal with you.