“Nobody is more persuasive than a good listener.” – Dale Carnegie
Have you always wanted to be an influencer with a gift to persuade others?
Your interest may be sparked by leaders who radiate charm and have the instinct to know how to get people on their side. They do this with finesse, which makes them appear natural.
Trailblazers in history who demonstrate this quality with noble intentions include Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., but there are those who are driven by darker motives, like Hitler. Today, we see many influencers on virtual platforms like Instagram and YouTube, each with their own fan base.
The ability to persuade people is, unquestionably, a trait that can take us straight to the top of any field. It’s a skill that’s instrumental in furthering our agenda and being firm in our opinions when we need to.
Whether it’s at work or your personal life, knowing your worth and showcasing yourself in a way that appeals to others, is essential to ‘selling yourself’. In a professional capacity, these skills will come in handy when you need to persuade a client to buy your products, or when you’re trying to convince your boss that you deserve a promotion and raise. If you want the object of your affections to go out on a date with you, you’ll need to say the right things, at the right time, so that you can ignite their interest. If you’re spearheading a charity project, you have to learn how to pitch it as a worthy cause that people will invest in.
Yet, this isn’t easy. Almost everyone is being bombarded by pressures on their time, money, and energy. For this reason, most people have developed a natural resistance to persuasion and dismiss anything that seems “salesy’. A pushy and loud persuasive approach just won’t work. We need tact, patience, and understanding.
To bypass resistance to our ideas, we have to become conscious of the thoughts of others by stepping into their shoes. We have to put them at ease by addressing their needs, concerns, and insecurities. By developing our social intelligence, we can become effective persuaders, who find that influencer ‘sweet spot’ – the right mix of assertiveness and compassion.
Persuasion, however, should never be underhanded and sneaky. I don’t advocate deceptive practices that manipulate others to do things that aren’t in their best interest. You want to create win-win situations that benefit all parties. Even if the people around you are crafty in their ways, you can always find ethical means to achieve your outcomes with a clear conscience.
No one likes a fake. So be honest and real in your approach to influence, and like bees to honey, the right people will gravitate towards you.
Here are five steps that you can take to gain people’s trust, and become more persuasive and influential in the process:
1. Be clear about your intention and objective: In the context of both your professional or personal life, it’s important to know your intentions. What is your objective in your attempt to persuade others? Having clarity about your goal will make it easier for you to structure your offer and set the tone of your conversation for maximum impact.
2. Listen and show genuine concern: Most people love to talk about themselves and have someone listen to them. This helps them loosen up and lower their defenses in your presence. Let them be the star of the show by asking them meaningful and relevant questions. Listen to them with genuine interest and make them feel appreciated and understood while they open up.
3. Understand the other person’s currency: As you listen to people, keep your ear to the ground for clues about their values. You can understand a person’s currency by listening for the words and topics that keep coming up. Understanding what matters most to them will give you the opportunity to put together an offer that takes their needs and priorities into consideration.
4. Mirror them: Mirroring is a powerful way to build rapport with others. Take note of people’s facial expressions and gestures, and reflect it back to them in a subtle way. Speaking with similar energy levels, tone, pace, and vocabulary will make the other person feel understood and validated. Mimicking their body language increases trust and leads to a deeper connection.
5. Keep it simple and offer options when possible: Avoid overwhelming your audience with complex data. This will not only dilute your message, but it will dissuade them from listening to what you have to say. Keep it short and crisp so that they can easily digest your thoughts. Think of your subject as a child, with no background on the subject, to whom you need to explain it in simple terms. If possible, offer options to appease to their need for autonomy.
Now that you have some guidelines on how to influence people, use it responsibly and wisely. As the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle said, “character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” In addition to words, let your integrity and goodwill be the light that inspires others to follow in your footsteps.
All my best on your journey,
Reflection Question: What do you believe are the most important traits for someone who is considered to be influential?
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