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.


  1. Thnx for posting this. i need 2 improve my persuasive skills a lot.

  2. cool - need to try out in my next presentation

  3. thanks for these very useful tips - Asha

  4. im going to apply 6 influencers on getting grl-frnd

  5. I'm already good in convincing people, but these tips will help

  6. Hi Brijesh

    Yes, you can apply the six influencers during GD also.

  7. Would welcome more on persuasive skills, especially on closing a deal successfully

    Rick Andre

  8. Good useful article

    Rajiv Singh

  9. Useful as good persuasive skills are required everywhere

  10. nice tips - persuasive skills are so required everwhere

  11. I have good persuasive skills but these tips will improve them

  12. thnx - i need to practice my skills for promotion