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How Can I Improve My Persuasion Skills?

The power of persuasion is one of the most impactful tools you can have in your professional toolbox — particularly as a leader. Persuasion skills can help you influence the decisions of others as well as affect the way they think or approach a situation — this way, they want to do something rather than follow orders.

However, persuasion is more than just appealing to intellect; it’s also about appealing to a person’s interests. Here are a few of the ways that you can improve your persuasion skills to influence at work and become a positive influence on others.

Embrace the Power of Persuasion with the ACE Method

One of the ways to learn how to persuade is to approach it from the ACE Method of persuasion. This method, which consists of verbal and rational influence appeals (rather than those that are emotion-based) emphasizes the use of appropriateness, consistency, and effectiveness. While this method is useful for establishing positions that are likely to resonate with the people you wish to influence, it is highly selective because it does not use all forms of persuasive activity.

Persuade with Patience by Taking It One Step at a Time

Trying to persuade some individuals requires a series of steps to get from point A to point B — this can be referred to as incremental persuasion. The idea is that people tend to be set in their ways; they’re slow to change, and they don’t want to alter course from what they know or think works for them. So, do not rush the process, and be sure to dedicate the time needed to make your efforts successful.

“Pre-suade” Rather Than Only Trying to Influence

Big Think Expert, author, and psychologist Robert Cialdini says that there is more to effective influencer marketing than just persuading others; you need to “pre-suade” them as well. In his book, “Influence: The Science of Persuasion,” he outlined six principles that make it more likely for your intended audience to accept the message. His Big Think course “Persuading Others: The 6 Universal Principles of Influence” also covers these topics, which include:

  1. Reciprocity. The idea here is that people want to give back to those who give first. So, if you run a business that offers a sample to clients when they walk in the door, they’ll be more likely to purchase something as a result. This concept applies to persuading others or gaining their buy-in in the workplace.
  2. Liking. This concept branches from the idea that people are more agreeable to things they know and like or are similar. This makes it essential to find similarities or commonalities that you can use to persuade your audience.
  3. Authority. People tend to say yes to ideas that are supported by people or groups they view as authorities or experts because their approval lends legitimacy and credibility.
  4. Social Proof. Although we’ve all heard the argument “just because X does something, doesn’t mean you should,” people still tend to follow the crowd. They are more likely to buy things or agree to ideas when they realize that others are doing the same.
  5. Scarcity. The idea here is that when there is a perception that something is limited or scarce, people are more likely to want it because it is less common.
  6. Commitment and Consistency. This principle is based on the idea that people are more agreeable to do or think something that is consistent with what they have done or said publicly. Essentially, they are supporting their own words rather than simply others’ thrust upon them.

According to Cialdini, it’s essential that people use these principles both as part of their message and in leading up to it:

“Pre-suasion says not only should you put those principles in the body of your message, you should also bring attention to them in the moment before you present your message.”

Knowing When to Back Off or Give Up On Trying to Influence

Just as important as knowing how to persuade effectively is knowing when not to do so. In a previous Big Think article, we discussed the three conditions in which it is best to cease using your persuasion skills:

  1. “When you realize the person considers himself to be always right and, as a consequence, sees you as usually or always wrong.” You’ll find yourself in a pointless argument.
  2. “When he or she inevitably takes the opposite side of whatever argument is being advanced. This is the perpetual devil’s advocate, who argues for argument’s sake even if aware of the habit.” Continual contrarians are virtually impossible to influence, persuade, or win over — regardless of what you say, they will come up with a reason to disagree or stand at odds with you.
  3. “When the person actually considers your arguments to be evidence of the correctness of his or her own. Essentially, everything you say just makes him or her even more intractable.” When someone has an elitist attitude, there isn’t much you can do to alter their course. They need to be willing to make the change for themselves, but if they aren’t willing to do that, it might be best to walk away.

These are just a few ways to improve your persuasion skills. To learn more about persuasive skills and influencer marketing, request a demo today from Big Think+ today.

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