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How to Hone Your Powers of Persuasion

June 29, 2021

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We spend a good part of each day trying to persuade others—to buy into an idea, purchase a product or service, even to convince someone to do us a favor. Here are ways to hone your powers of persuasion at work or at home—and make it look easy.

Be likable. Most of us are open to persuasion by people we are drawn to. Likeable people are interested in others, keep an open mind, and are nonjudgmental—all attributes which lead others to like and trust them.  

Build Rapport. Show others you care about them by asking them to talk about their interests and goals, as well as what they value, want and/or need. You might share some of these goals and interests. This will give you a common bond that can help you develop a genuine relationship with the other person. When that happens, half the battle of persuasion is won.

Listen deeply. Listen to the other person’s ideas before telling them yours. To persuade someone to your point of view, you need to know theirs about the issue at hand. State their words back to them—it will make them feel heard.

Explain your ideas. Now that you’re clear about the problem they need resolved, describe in detail how you propose to correct it. Explain everything you’ve learned about their issue and why you think your solution is will work best for them. 

Tell a story. Although you can and should use statistics to make your case, people are persuaded more by emotion than by numbers. Have one or more stories ready about how your idea or program has previously benefited others. Success stories are extremely persuasive.  

Reduce perceived risk. Explain the downsides of saying no. Perhaps money will be lost, competitors will gain an edge, or the problem will remain at an impasse. People are afraid of risk—so make the risk of saying no greater than the risk of saying yes.

Do someone a favor. Stand up for a coworker’s ideas with the boss, help then complete a task, compliment their work. Don’t do these things to “get in good” with them. Do them sincerely. Your colleague will feel appreciated and indebted; they’ll happily jump in to help you out when you’re in need—or be persuaded to your ideas.  


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