The Art of Persuading People

May 09

When did you last have to persuade someone to decide in your favor?  Were you successful?

Persuading people is all about shaping judgment rather than creating certainty.  The key to successful persuasion is to be able to discern what motivates someone to decide and to artfully influence them in your favor.  

Someone is persuaded when the following three criteria are met:

  • The person has a clear idea of what you’re asking them to do
  • They are assured that it is within their power and best interest to do it
  • After hearing, the rationale for doing what you want, and the rationale for either doing something else or nothing at all, they decide that what you’re doing is best

Are you ready to give it a try?  Here are some tips:

  1. Learn as much as you can about the person you are trying to persuade; what motivates them to decide?
  2. Educate yourself about the facts that favor your position and emphasize the ones that are the most defensible.
  3. Have a clear idea of facts that do not favor your position, counter them on the merits or dismiss them as irrelevant.
  4. Never overstate the merits of your side; you’ll harm your credibility, err on the side of caution, and don’t use phrases like always or never.
  5. Give your best facts first, and then refute those that work against you.  You’ll appear evenhanded and trustworthy.
  6. Don’t defend the indefensible. Openly acknowledging those positions demonstrates you are reasonable and avoids the appearance of trying to sweep things under the rug.
  7. Appeal to other people’s common sense and fairness; not only is your choice factually right, but it is within the bounds of reasonableness.
  8. Close powerfully by creating a vivid image of the benefits to the listener for acting on what you have so carefully and logically presented.