Have you ever gotten into an argument and found yourself overwhelmed by the insane amount of disagreements with your seemingly logical point of view? Or has anyone ever rejected you for no apparent reason? If you've answered "yes" to either of those questions, then perhaps you're in need of some coaching on the art of persuasion. After all, it's an incredibly useful skill to have -- even if you're not planning to be a lawyer or salesperson. You can use persuasion to negotiate lower prices, score better dates, gain loyal supporters and more. It's as important as being able to speak and write.
So, if you feel like you need to improve your persuasion skills, then you can do so by following these rules:
1. Establish a Connection
The first thing you need to do when it comes to persuading someone is to establish rapport with the other side. In other words, you need to make them feel comfortable when they are around you. The most ideal way to do so is by observing the person's body language, speech patterns, cadence and other little quirks. You should then start mimicking those traits to make it seem like you "get" that person on a more personal, deeper level. This in turn makes them more open with you and more receptive to your ideas.
2. Shut Up and Listen!
Note that having a connection with the other side won't do you any good, if you fail to listen to them. Why? Because if you ignore their point of view or interrupt them to make your own argument (regardless of how well thought-out and logical it may be), they will treat it as a hostile act.
In order to persuade someone, you need to treat them as a friend by listening to them first. What should you listen for? First and foremost, you should listen to their arguments so that you could respond to them adequately. You should also try noticing when they agree with you, which you can then use in your own arguments. And finally, you should observe them to see how receptive they are of your point of view. So, basically, just zip it and let the other side speak for a bit -- and you'll know what to do next. As the great sales trainer J. Douglas Edwards once said, "Whenever you ask a closing question, shut up. The first person who speaks, loses."
3. Say the Right Thing at the Right Time
One of the most important things to remember when making an argument is to say the right thing at the right time. Context and timing matter for more than one reason in this case. With context, you get to establish what you and the other side both accept as a fact. For instance, you may both agree that flying cars are a bad idea and shouldn't exist. Establishing this allows you to create boundaries, which then prevent the argument from derailing in unexpected directions. Timing allows you to bring up certain things at the right time. For instance, after agreeing on the fact that poverty affects a large amount of people, you can then discuss how to prevent it. At this point, you don't want to go back to arguing what you've already established.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
When persuading someone, it's always important to understand what the other side expects from you, which is largely dependent on what you can deliver. If you always deliver on what you promise, then it's easier for you to convince people of your arguments. To be able to deliver all the time, your promises should always be set within realistic boundaries. Don't promise to earn $5,000, if you can only earn $4,000. Set the bar low enough for you to exceed it, but not low enough for everyone to start doubting you.
5. Rely on Facts and Valid Opinions
When it comes to persuasion, there are no better weapons than facts and opinions of experts. Always have facts, statistics and quotes from reputable individuals, which you should prepare in advance to drive your point home. Never rely on passionate statements or angry remarks because they make you look weak and hurt your argument in the long run.
6. Express Your Ideas Clearly
In order to make your point, the best way to do so is by communicating your thoughts clearly. If you can't explain your ideas to an elementary school student, so that they could re-explain it to their parents, then it may be too complicated for its own good. If that's the case, then try to find a way to simplify it -- to say it in fewer and simpler words.
7. Never, Ever Get Angry
Even if a certain issue angers you, always try to detach yourself from it. Pretend as if it means nothing to you. To achieve this state of zen, you can comfort yourself in the thought that you'll change things for the better once the argument is won. But, when you are in an argument, especially a heated one, there's no better ammunition to use against the other side than staying as calm and reasonable as possible.
8. Build Up Your Self-Confidence
Nothing is more attractive to other people than certainty, which you should always take advantage of. If you're not sure about some of your ideas, then never present them to anyone until you know they are worth hearing. If, however, you are sure your ideas are great, then present your arguments with complete and utter confidence. You know you're right, which means that there should be absolutely no reason for anyone to doubt you!
Persuasion is all about likability. So, in order to succeed at it, always make sure people enjoy your company first. Then you can ask them for anything.
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