How to Persuade People Using 9 Proven Methods

Imagine asking for the sale, the venture capital, the appointment, the promotion, the tickets to the sold-out show and getting exactly what you want.

Depending on your motivation, it can be seen as either great leadership tactics or pure baloney manipulation. You decide how you want to use these communication rules. And remember, what you plant you reap.

We all use persuasion to varying degrees all the time. It started in childhood wanting that plea for extra hour of play time before sleep. Or going to the teen party that looked edgy because all the cool kids would be there.

Can you steer a conversation the way you want? Can you prove your point and get heads to nod quickly in agreement? Do you speak with confidence?

There are some basic methods that have become known to almost anyone who markets and sells anything: the power of reciprocity, scarcity, and social proof. The best book on this is by Robert Cialdani.

Here are more ways to improve your power of persuasion:

  • Use present tense: what is happening now makes people sit up and listen. Talking about the past, especially in detail, no matter how important, causes a ho hum attitude and people stop listening. What’s in it for me NOW gets ears perked to pay attention.
  • Make your talk short: Make it quick and easy to evaluate. Think like twitter and no run-on sentences. Each sentence should be at most nine words.
  • Emphasize with adjectives: remember what you learned in school – adjectives underline and embolden. Words like brilliant, first-class, gigantic, incredible, gorgeous, and of course that most important word — great — need to be sprinkled into your short sentences.
  • Be like Goldilocks: go to the extremes of good/bad, right/wrong, and then offer the “just right” sweet spot that you will make sure is better than either of the alternatives.
  • Use statistics and science: we all know statistics can lie and science can be wrong. However, use available data or the left brainers will turn you off. And the right brainers will think you are brilliant, incredible and, of course, great!
  • Generalize: say “everyone knows” (can’t be more general and inclusive than that). People sit up and listen, deep down we all want to be part of the winning tribe. Say, it’s obvious, a sure bet, and of course, it’s the only way.
  • Go basic: appeal to basic instincts. Add in some quick story about toddlers, and children (up to the age of seven. Its heartwarming. And of course, throw in a puppy or a kitten story and watch people fall in love with what you are saying.
  • Use the butter: flattery will get you everywhere. Find the right amount. Too little and people think you don’t care. Too much and they will dismiss you as a charlatan. And please, unless you’re a sociopath, mean what you say or don’t say it.
  • Save best for first: what you say first, sticks. If you say Dan is a smart, yet slimy dude. Guess what’s remembered? Dan is smart. Say Dan is a shark who is smart. Yes, they see Dan in the ocean with sharp teeth.

Give people enough information to make up their minds. Remember being funny or clever is different from being persuasive. And learn to listen better and see who comes across as authentic and trustworthy.

Sharks in suits often burn their bridges as time goes on. Build your persuasion bridges for a long lasting and successful future at work, at home, everywhere.


Originally published at Inc