Changing Minds: 7 Ways to Boost Your Powers of Persuasion

7 Ways to Boost Your Powers of Persuasion

Your team is facing a challenge at work. You’ve done your research, thought the situation through and come up with a solution you think is logical, smart and effective. It’s the right approach to the problem – but for whatever reason, your coworkers aren’t seeing it that way.

But you don't want to belabor your point; no one likes to be pressured into something she’s not sure about. Instead, try using your persuasive skills. When you do so, you not only get people to see your point of view – you also have a better chance at convincing them to come on board with your idea. Hone your persuasion techniques with these seven tips, and watch as heads start to nod in agreement.

1. Start off on common ground.

If a topic or situation has the potential for conflicting opinions, begin the conversation with a statement that everyone can agree on, such as, “I think we can all agree that process X needs revising.” That way, your colleagues will start off on your side and be more open to hearing what you have to say next. 

2. Speak with authority.

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, author Robert Cialdinisays those we like and those we see as authority figures are the ones who have the best chance of persuading us. So present yourself as an expert by simply stating your credentials or experience, in a way that’s not pretentious or contentious.

3. Avoid using fillers.

When you pepper your speech with “uh”s and “um”s, you sometimes give the impression that you’re not truly knowledgeable. Practice your speech ahead of time so that you can speak clearly and thoughtfully when it’s time to officially present your position.

4. Practice active listening.

Sure, you’re excited about your point of view. But make sure you’re also giving your colleagues the chance to express their own thoughts, including objections to your ideas, and ensure you’re listening closely when they speak. When you do so, you not only show them respect. You also learn a lot about their approach to the problem, and you’re better able to address their specific concerns about your position. You might even be able to incorporate some of their ideas in your own solution.

5. Use positive language.

Avoid criticizing any concerns your colleagues have about your ideas. Instead, use phrases like, “Have you ever considered ...?” Or, “I see where you’re coming from, but what if we look at it this way?” With these positive phrases, there’s less chance that your colleagues will feel belittled or disrespected and more chance they'll be willing to collaborate with you. 

6. Point to the future.

A well thought-out argument isn’t limited to the present. It also looks ahead. Be sure to include your colleagues in the positive outcome of any idea by saying things like, “We can look forward to ...” and “We’ll see an improvement in ....” This shows that you’ve thought your argument through to fruition and everyone stands to gain from it.

7. Concede when necessary.

Persuasive skills don’t guarantee a win. You can’t be right all the time. When your colleague makes a valid and inarguable point, it’s time to concede and carry on. 

What persuasive skills have you found most effective in the workplace? Share your experience in the comments below.