Monday, April 15, 2019

Acquiring Persuasive Skills

How persuasive are you?

How many times have you heard the phrase - Oh, hes a born salesman, or perhaps the phrase - This guy could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.No doubt these phrases refer to the powerful persuasive skills of a person who has the ability to convince other people. Im sure youve come across several such people in your life, and perhaps secretly admired their ability or become influenced by them or even wished you had the same ability. Well, the good thing is, that you can have the ability to influence others since it is an acquired skill and can be learnt easily with some practice.

Why do I require persuasive skills?

Nowadays, persuasive skills are no longer limited to the domain of sales or marketing. Good persuasive skills are considered an integral part of your interpersonal skills which are essentially required to survive as well as thrive in this current day, fast changing and highly competitive career scenario. Whether its a job interview, group discussion, brain storming session, meeting, negotiation or an appraisal meeting for a salary raise or promotion, you need good convincing skills in all sorts of job profiles. Otherwise you may face the consequences of being passed up for promotion or salary raise in your organization. Poor presentation and influencing skills may also lead to your ideas and plans being rejected or passed over for better presented concepts, either internally within the company or by the clients. How many times have you had the feeling that other people pay less attention to what youre saying, or rejecting your ideas and beliefs? Or that your boss listens more to your colleague than yourself? Or more often, if not always, youre at the losing side of a discussion? These are sure signs that you need to improve your persuasive skills.

Numerous career experts have opinionated that computational and logically deductive jobs in the near future will definitely be taken over by artificial intelligence in the white-collared work scenario, while advances in robotics and automation will cause a huge dent in blue-collared jobs. So the jobs that will be open for human beings in the future will be those which require high degree of soft skills, such as creativity, out of the box thinking, innovative skills, leaderships & team working skills, interpersonal skills, convincing skills, empathy, etc - since these soft skills cant be replicated by artificial intelligence.

How do I acquire persuasive skills?

There are perhaps hundreds of books, and several famous ones, that have been written on acquiring persuasive skills. While theres no doubt that all these ideas and techniques given in those books can be absorbed and understood, its the application of these techniques which is far more important.  So instead of focusing on the theoretical aspects in this article, well take a look at how persuasive skills can be practically applied in your everyday life and you can learn to master this skill through constant practice.
I prefer to call these persuasive techniques as Influencers which can be easily applied in all aspects of your interpersonal behaviour on a daily basis. You can use the six influencers  mentioned below whenever you want to influence others in any kind of given situation. First you need to make sure that you understand the people you wish to influence, and that you know why you want to influence them. Think about your ultimate objectives, and then decide which one of these six influencers  will be most useful in your situation.

Lets take a look at what these influencersare:
1. Reciprocation :

The common human tendency is to aim to return favors, and treat others as they treat us. We tend to feel obliged to offer favors, compliments, concessions or discounts to others if they have previously offered the same to us. This is because we're uncomfortable with the idea of feeling indebted to others. For example, if a colleague helps you when you're busy with a project, you may feel obliged to support her ideas and plans later on. You may decide to buy more from a supplier who has offered you a hefty discount. Or, you may feel obligated to return a compliment given to you by a friend.
To use reciprocation to influence others, you'll need to identify your objectives, and think about what you want from the other person. You then need to identify what you can give to them in return. Remember that you can sometimes use this principle by simply reminding the other person of how you have helped them in the past.
2.  Consistency :

Our natural instinct is to be consistent. As such , once we've committed to something, we're then more inclined to go through with it. For instance, you'd probably be more likely to support a colleague's project proposal if you had shown interest in it when he first talked to you about his ideas. 
To use this influencer, you can try to get people to commit early on, either verbally or in writing. For example, if you're building support for a project, talk about your ideas early on with the stakeholders, and take their comments and views into account. Or if youre pushing for a raise from your boss, try to evoke some positive commitment from him even though you are unlikely to get that raise immediately. Follow up on that positive commitment later.
3. Herd Following:
This influenceris dependent on the tendency of people to find safety in numbers, by doing what the majority of people are doing, or have done in the past. For example, you're more likely to work late if your other  team members are doing the same, or frequent restaurants that are busy or crowded . We assume that if lots of other people are doing it, then it must be OK. We're highly susceptible to this influencer when we feel uncertain about things, and even more likely to be influenced if the people we see doing these things seem to be similar to us. That's why advertisements often use parental figures like Moms and Dads, and not celebrities, to advertise household products like detergents and food stuff.
4. Rapport:
Definitely were more likely to be influenced by people we like. Likability comes in many forms people might be friends, team members, colleagues or in some way familiar to us, or belonging to our social class, membership group or  community. That is why companies often use sales agents from within the community to employ this influencer with huge success.

If you wish to use this influencer to persuade people, try to develop your emotional intelligence (EI), active listening skills and a bit of detailed knowledge about the person(s) you want to form a rapport with. Remember that there is no "one-size-fits-all" approach when it comes to relating to others - try to improvise as per the persons personality and habits. Also, don't try too hard to be liked by others people can always spot a phony. Be genuine and natural when trying to establish a rapport with someone.
5.Expert Support:  

We feel a sense of respect for people who are experts in their related field. This is why advertisers of pharmaceutical products employ doctors for their campaigns. Job titles, uniforms and expert authority figures provide us with an immediate sense of belief or  agreement, and can persuade us more effectively .
If you're promoting an idea or course of action for your higher ups or colleagues to adopt, highlight the number of people already implementing the same , use plenty of expert testimonials, quote case studies  to demonstrate the success of your ideas or plans, and talk about impressive research or statistics on that concept.
6. Scarcity/Reward:

This influencer motivates us to go for things when their availability is limited, or when we may stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favorable terms. For instance, we might buy something immediately if we're told that it's the last one, or that a special offer will soon expire.
This influencer can be tricky to apply if you're trying to influence others to support your ideas or projects. You can, however, use urgency to get support for your ideas. For example, you can highlight the possible urgent consequences of the problem that your idea may help to solve or the benefits that will accrue if your ideas are adopted.
Try to see how you can use the six influencers on some of these practical day to day situations like the ones given below:

- Persuade someone to contribute to a charity which youre a member of.
- Influence a colleague to join an evening class to learn some new hobby.
- Convince your friend to join membership of a health club along with you.
- Persuade your landlord to allow you to keep a pet in your rented apartment.  
- Sell any product or service to a prospective customer or an innovative idea to your colleague.
- Persuade a friend/colleague to give up smoking or drinking.
- Convince your friend to go to a particular restaurant or a movie.

You can think up many more common, day to day situations like the ones given above. Once you start applying the influencers on common non-crucialsituations for the sole purpose of practicing and polishing your persuasive skills, you will find a vast improvement in your powers to influence others and which influencer or set of influencers to apply for a particular situation. Start small and then move on to bigger things. First try your hand at influencing a conversation or discussion on some common topics with your friends or associates. But just always remember that a discussion is merely a discussion, and not an argument. Use the influencers to support your discussion, and not go off the edge by becoming aggressive.

Once you have enough practice, you can then feel confident enough to start taking a shot at some more serious and crucial situations in your career or life.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Professional Grooming for Interviews:

Business suits have become a standard dress code for both men and women in the corporate sector nowadays. While men can wear a trouser type business suit , for women the options are open for either trouser or skirt type business suit.

Winter wear:

The Suit

1-Materials: The best material for winter is worsted cloth, traditional wool or wool/polyester mixes. Avoid glazed or shimmering types of fabrics.

2-Colors: Best suited colors for interviews are navy blue and grey which are known as pivotal colors as they portray a sense of authority and formality on any kind of occasion. Grey suits are suitable for all kinds of skin tones as this colour is neutral and meshes well with anything. Wear a darker shade of grey during winters. The same is the case with a black suit but you should be cautious not to wear a black/bright red tie with it. Brown suits were traditionally suitable for parties, but are being worn nowadays for less formal work places or casual working days. For interviews, a darker shade of brown would be suitable for winter.  However, make sure you pick a suit colour which matches your personality and skin tone.

3-Patterns: The cloth pattern of your suit is as important as its material and colour. There are basically four types of suit cloth patterns:

A) Solids: These consist of single colour with no built in pattern. They can be either close woven or have a matted finish. They are neutral and safe for all occasions.

B) Pinstripes: These suits have vertical lines of color evenly spaced throughout the suit. These stripes of color can vary in thickness. Pinstripes give the wearer a more conservative and authoritative look.

C) Window Pane: These suits have either a square or rectangular pattern throughout the suit. This is created with the use of widely spaced horizontal and vertical stripes which can be in two tones. These suits are more stylish than the previous two patterns, though not suitable for interviews.

D) Plaid: The plaid suit is a type of small ingrained check patterned suit in single color tone that blends with the basic suit color. This can be worn for interviews depending on your height and shape. It is more suitable for tall and lean figures.

E) Checks: This is similar to the window pane suit but has every square or rectangle filled with horizontal lines. These suits are more trendy and stylish but unsuitable for interviews.
4-Style: There are generally four basic men's suit styles, and everything else is just a mixture of these basic styles:

A) Italian style: This is also known as the European style. The jacket is double breasted with large lapels, padded shoulders and slit pockets worn with pleated pants, which can be either cuffed or uncuffed at the base. This style of suit is suitable if you are very tall. If you are short or stocky then you should avoid wearing this style.

B) British style: This type of suit is great for formal occasions, interviews, and office wear. The traditional British style jacket has three buttons, medium sized lapels, and three outside pockets. It has two side vents and padded shoulders. Waists will be streamlined with one flap pocket on each side. Pants are single or double pleated with a straight fall and can be cuffed at the bottom. They are mostly worn in pinstripe, solid and plaid designs. This style gives a very elegant and sophisticated look.

C) American style: The traditional American suit jackets have two buttons, medium sized lapels, and three outside flap pockets. Jackets are single vented with natural shoulders. Pants have a flat front. The bottom of the pants are uncuffed and have a natural break at the shoes. Pants should angle back towards the legs at the ankles. This style combines a formal image with a casual grace.

D) Mandarin style: The mandarin style suit has eastern origins with a short, erect collar and not suitable for interviews.  

Which style you choose to wear for interviews is not just a matter of preference. It has to convey a conservative elegance, as well as suit your body shape and size.

The Shirt

1-Materials: Cotton, semi-cotton polyester blend.

2-Colors: White, off white, pastel shades that coordinate with your suit colour. However, nothing can beat a crisp, plain white shirt for interviews.

3-Patterns: Plain, pinstripes, ingrained or subdued stripes. Do not go in for broad stripes or checks or any multicoloured patterns.

The Accessories

1-Shoes: Black or brown depending on your suit color in Oxford or Brogue styling for men. Brogue and Oxford style are internationally acceptable styles for all formal occasions and will always remain in vogue for wearing with a suit. For women, the footwear should be closed toed type formal shoes with medium or low heels. The color options in shoes are more for women, in beige, grey, and white apart from the traditional black and brown, but the shoe color is dependent on the suit color. Avoid large buckles or glitzy looking ornamental straps, or multicoloured shoes. They should be in either single tome ot two toned. Never go for an interview in casual foot wear, sandals, boots or sneakers.

2-Ties: A medium sized traditional silk tie in plain solid colors, small dotted or diagonally striped in single or two toned colors that match with your suit colour. Do not go in for loud colors or patterns or ties with designer logos and images.

You can go in for different types of knots like the Windsor, Pratt or Four in hand depending on the type of collar of your shirt.

A) The Windsor knot has a wide triangular knot and is worn on more formal occasions, and it is especially suited for a spread collar that can properly accommodate a larger knot. It is more suitable for tall people.

B) The Pratt knot is also known as the Shelby knot or the Pratt-Shelby. The Pratt knot is unusual in the sense that its starting position is 'reverse side out'. It uses less length than the Windsor knots, and so is well suited to shorter ties and unlike the Windsor, the Pratt method produces a symmetrical knot. It is of medium thickness and is suitable for long, narrow collars.

C) The four-in-hand knot is also known as a simple knot or schoolboy knot. It is believed to be the most popular method of tying ties due to its simplicity. The knot produced by this method is on the narrow side, slightly asymmetric, and appropriate for all occasions. It can be worn with small or narrow collars and suitable for people on the stouter side.

D) There is also a Half Windsor knot that has been adapted from the traditional Windsor knot to be worn with a buttoned down shirt.

For more information on tie knots and how to make them, visit our web page -

3-Belt: Single colour smooth or crinkled leather black or brown with a conservative buckle. As a rule, in the case of men, your belt colour should match the color of your shoes.

4-Socks: Choose a color that coordinates with your trousers. Usually, the sock colour is black, dark grey, dark brown or dark blue. The socks should be long enough not to expose your skin while you are sitting. Never wear white coloured socks. Always wear clean socks for interviews to avoid any bad odour.

5-Pocket Squares: The pocket square should typically match your tie and should be made from the same material and pattern. Make sure you purchase a tie which comes with a matching pocket square. There are several styles of pocket squares, but the most suitable ones are the presidential, cruise liner,diagonal shell, the single point & two point pyramid, winged peak, and the three stairs fold style. For more information on pocket squares and how to make them, visit our web page -

Summer wear:

The Suit

Your attire for summer wear will remain the same as for winter except for the material and colour of your suit.

1-Material: Linen is the most comfortable and light weight material for summer wear.  

2- Colors - Lighter colors in tan, beige, blue and light or medium grey are appropriate colors for summer wear. Try to avoid black and dark grey colors.


You should also carry some essential accessories with you for your interview:

A good quality ball point pen in your front shirt pocket
Clean, white handkerchief in your trouser pocket
Conservative style business folder in dark brown or black, depending on your suit colour
Small pocket notepad.

4-Essential Tips
Your cologne or aftershave keep it subtle
Your deodorant not too strong smelling
Shave & trim your beard & moustache (for men)
Clip your nails
Shoes should be well polished
Hair should be neatly styled
Clothes should be well ironed

Additional Tips for Women

1-Some essential hair styling tips:

A-Make sure you clean and shampoo your hair one day before the interview.
B-If possible, visit a hair stylist and get yourself a professional hair style.
C--Don't go for head bands, ribbons, or high ponytails.
D-Use only a conservative styled clip to hold your hair in place.

Hair Styles for interviews:

A-Low Bun: Long hair can be tied into a bun knotted at the nape of the neck and held in place with a conservative type of clip.

B-Ponytail: This is suitable for medium to long hair. Use a simple band to hold the hair and make sure to tie the hair towards the nape of your head and not at the top.  

C-Short hair:

Shoulder length hair can be styled in various ways. For the purpose of interviews, make sure the style you chose is conservative and neat which at the same time appears smart and business like. You can go in for a centre parting as well as a side parting.

For more information on women's hairstyles for interviews and how to make them, visit our web page -

2-Hand bags:

Your purse/handbag should be easily manoeuvrable and manageable, in a single tone colour which matches your suit colour. A black leather hand bag is the safest as it goes with almost any combination. Choose a subtle design without flashy buckles or ornamentation on the bag. It is better to carry a shoulder strap purse as it can be hung and leave your hands free.


It is advisable to keep the earrings, finger rings, bracelets and chains to a minimum for interviews. However, they can be worn during interviews provided you keep them simple and conventional. Avoid danglers or hoops, chunky, ornamental bracelets and pendants or too many bangles as they will create a distracting sound whenever you move your hands.

3- Make up Tips:

The Do's

Concealer (if you need it)
A small amount of translucent powder to get rid of shine
Neutral-toned lip gloss or lipstick
A small amount of eyeliner & neutral eye shadow (optional)

The Donts

Tons of caked-on foundation              
Smokey eye makeup
Brightly coloured eye shadow
Glittery or super bright lip gloss
Glittering nail polish
An oily face cream

It is always better to avoid elaborate make up. The best option is to go to the interview  with a clean, fresh and natural look - clean your face with an astringent or a face scrub cream, and then apply a natural moisturising cream. 

For examples of interview wear & accessories for men and women, visit our web pages: