What to Keep in Mind If You Want to Be Persuasive
To successfully persuade someone of something, it’s important to keep in mind how you come across to others—both when you’re trying to persuade and when you’re not.
For example, Max, a developer, belittled everyone else’s needs, yet wanted these very people to rally around his own. Sherri, a project manager, was so quick to anger that customers brushed off suggestions from her that would have benefited them. And Vic, a manager, never stopped talking long enough to listen, so people stopped listening to him in return.
An important key to being persuasive is building credibility and trust, so that when you seek to persuade, people will give you a fair hearing.
A good starting point is to follow the reciprocity rule—that is, do for others before asking them to do for you. People often feel obligated to give back when a favor, even one that’s unrequested, has been done for them. If you provide genuine value to others as a consistent practice, then when you seek their support, they’ll be more inclined to give it.
To be persuasive, you need to be willing to listen to others, especially those you may eventually wish to persuade. If you dismiss or ignore these key others — or shut them down altogether — they won’t be open to accepting or even acknowledging your ideas. Build a reputation as a good listener and you’ll up the odds that others will be willing to listen to you in return.
In tailoring your persuasive message, try to organize your points around issues important to those you want to persuade. Think about how they’ll benefit from your desired outcome. What’s in it for them? What do they stand to gain? Focus on a win-win approach and you’re more likely to earn their buy-in.
Think also about what those you want to persuade emphasize when they seek to persuade. For example, if they focus on how people, costs, deadlines, time frames, or anything else will be affected, orient your points accordingly. The more your case meshes with matters important to these people, the more likely they’ll be to give your perspective serious attention.
And it’s always a good idea to consider possible objections to your case. To you, what you want seems perfectly reasonable. But because others may not see it that way, try to make a case against your ideas, then determine how to respond to each potential objection. If you can’t come up with solid responses to these objections, your case may not be very strong to begin with.
Max, Sherri, and Vic would benefit by keeping these points in mind. Perhaps you’d find them helpful as well.