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The Art Of Persuasion

The ability to persuade others or influence them is a key factor in both your business and personal life. Some of us are better than others at the art of persuasion, but what can we do to improve our own ability in this area?

There are a number of different ways that you can use to persuade others or influence them. People make decisions for their own reasons, so it is important to consider carefully the person you are dealing with in order to decide the best method to use.

By increasing your self-awareness in this area, trying out new ways and deciding on the best methods to use in each situation you can improve your ability to persuade and influence others.

Here are the most common ways of persuading others or influencing them:

Reasoning: Using facts, logic and reasons to put your point of view across. This is best used where you can support your views with good facts, logic and reasons.

Inspiring: Appealing to the other person's emotions, using energy, passion and conviction. This is best used when you are looking for emotional commitment and when the reasoned view is weak.

Asking: Asking questions to encourage the other person to make up their own mind. This is best used when you want the other person to buy into the outcome and when dealing with someone more senior than you.

Complimenting: Making the other person feel good about themself. This is best used when the other person values your views and with people who look up to you.

Making a deal: Doing a deal by offering the other person something in return for what you want. This is best used when you don't mind making a deal and have something to offer as your part of the deal.

Calling in a favour: Getting what you want by calling in a favour. This is best used when you have a very good relationship with the other person.

Comparing to others: Persuading the other person by using the views of people they respect to support your argument. This is best used when the other person is easily swayed by the views of others.

Authority: Influencing by using rules or principles or quoting someone in authority. This should really only be used in exceptional circumstances as it will encourage compliance not commitment.

Forcing: Forcing the other person by using assertive behaviour. This is best used in emergency situations only.

In any given situation you should use the most appropriate methods for the circumstances and the person you are dealing with and move between the different methods if your chosen one is not working. Also consider the sequence in which you use the different methods as some sequences work better than others e.g. after trying forcing it would be very difficult to use asking.

To improve your own ability in this area, increase your self awareness of how you persuade and influence others. Also observe the methods that other people use and how they use them, so that you can identify good practise. Then decide the methods that you want to use for the situation, try them out but be prepared to be flexible and afterwards review how it has gone so that you can identify areas for improvement next time.

Author: Liz Makin
Published: May 2008

Makin It Happen has a range of personal development online courses to purchase, created by Liz Makin, including communication, resilience, time management, stress management and coaching. Liz Makin also provides personalised business coaching, business mentoring and stress management services to business owners, directors, managers and professionals.


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