What Is Persuasion? Definition, Examples And How It Works
Updated 23 November 2022
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Persuasion is the ability to influence other people's thoughts and opinions using convincing arguments and facts. Persuasion skills are necessary to help individuals consider alternative points of view in professional situations. The ability to persuade may prove beneficial in many job roles and business environments. In this article, we examine what is persuasion and explore some ways you can improve your persuasion skills.
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What Is Persuasion?
What is persuasion, can be described as the process of convincing someone else to carry out an action or agree with an idea. In the workplace, you may use persuasion to sell products, recruit team members and increase productivity. Persuasion can be done through verbal or written communication using logical reasoning, data analysis and verifiable facts to prove that your point of view is feasible and has merit.
What Are Some Examples Of Persuasion?
In your day-to-day life, you may come across a variety of situations where you persuade others or others persuade you. Here are some common examples:
Written, visual and media advertisements are persuasive methods used by marketing professionals to influence a customer's purchase decision.
Large-scale campaigns for social causes like cancer awareness, sustainability and vaccination drives involve organised efforts to persuade diverse audiences. The persuaders may use one or more formats like posters, videos, public demonstrations, television advertisements and podcasts to subtly or explicitly promote ideas and concepts that they align with.
Speeches, articles and videos of motivational speakers are examples of their persuasion skills in action.
Salespeople use their persuasion skills to convert potential customers into loyal patrons of their brand.
Teachers, mentors and counsellors persuade students to engage well with their academic curriculum and make good career decisions.
Business owners and top executives may use persuasion during business deals and negotiations to safeguard their business interests.
Team managers use persuasion to motivate their team members to complete work on or ahead of schedule.
Related: Customer Service Soft Skills: Definition And Examples
What Skills Do You Require To Persuade Others?
Persuasion skills can be a natural talent or personality trait. You can also develop and master this skill with adequate practice and determination. These skills help you convince someone to carry out an action or consider an idea. Organisations often employ people with persuasion skills to sell products, get new clients, recruit new employees and increase productivity. A person with strong persuasion skills at their workplace can motivate and inspire colleagues to perform better and succeed at their work. Here are some important skills that can help you become a good persuader:
Active listening skills
Logical reasoning ability
Related: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions and Examples
How To Improve Persuasion Skills?
To be an effective persuader, you can enhance and master the skills mentioned above. This may require time and practice. Here are some ways in which you can improve your persuasion skills:
1. Develop your communication skills
Speaking with intent and confidence can help you persuade others effectively. Speak clearly to avoid confusion, and only use non-verbal gestures that the other person can understand easily. Use vocabulary that is simple and positive. Focus on building credibility, rather than intimidating listeners.
While sharing ideas, be engaging and use a tone that appeals to the listener. List the positive features of your idea and refrain from demeaning theirs. For example, if you are selling a product, talk extensively about how your product is better and sparingly about the shortcomings of the product they already own. Honouring and respecting a customer's purchasing decisions can help build trust.
Related: How To Improve Communication Skills
2. Build emotional intelligence
When you are trying to persuade someone, evaluate their feelings and emotions before you speak. With enough practice, you can respond to situations appropriately and customise your persuasion tactics according to the specific situation you are in. While some individuals may appreciate a matter-of-fact attitude and concise arguments, this need not always be the case. Some may demand a detailed explanation and may expect you to be more empathetic.
With emotional intelligence, you can gauge a person's mood and willingness to be persuaded and tailor your arguments accordingly. For example, as a manager, you may choose a reassuring tone to communicate with a nervous employee and a firm, rational tone with someone who is engaging in conflict after receiving constructive feedback. As you build emotional intelligence, you can be confident that you do not sound intimidating or patronising to either of them.
3. Listen actively
Active listening involves being more respectful and attentive to a listener's point of view. To improve this skill, it is important to develop patience and listen to the concerns of a person without interrupting them. Give people enough time to talk about their perspectives and allow them to share their thoughts in a comprehensive, detailed manner. This can help make them comfortable in the conversation and can help you gain their trust. Once you establish trust, it often becomes significantly easier to persuade.
Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples
4. Use logic and reason to support your arguments
You can rely on logic, rational thought and verifiable facts in your argument to compel listeners to subscribe to your idea or viewpoint. Gather comprehensive data and allow the other person enough time to examine the data, interpret it and come to conclusions. Share examples and your analysis of similar situations that have happened in the past. For example, if you want to convince your manager about shifting to a new CRM (customer relationship management) tool, talk about its benefits in terms of financial, temporal and labour costs. Consider sharing testimonials and reviews from credible sources.
5. Improve your interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are your ability to interact and maintain meaningful relationships with others. They are crucial for managers and leaders who require to constantly engage with people from various departments and with others outside the organisation. To improve your interpersonal skills, you can try to be genuine, behave naturally and be charismatic. The people you interact with may notice if your behaviour is unnatural or forced. This reduces your credibility and your chances of being able to persuade them.
Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples
6. Master the art of negotiation
To convince people to do something, it is important to be able to show them the benefits of engaging in the actions that you are recommending. If the benefits match their expectations, your persuasion is more likely to work. To improve negotiation skills, try to gauge an individual's expectations and assess their motivation, intent and rationale for it. You can then make genuine, visible efforts to see if you or another invested party can meet their expectations.
Consider creating a list of all that you can offer and even your limitations. Once you have identified limitations, both parties can start working on a compromise. By compromising a little yourself, you can persuade the other party to reciprocate. Instead of making huge compromises in one round, try to maintain leverage while negotiating. Be prepared for multiple rounds of negotiation until you reach an arrangement that is beneficial for all parties.
Related: Negotiation Skills: Definitions, Benefits and Examples
What Are The Three Types Of Persuasion?
The use of logic, ethics and emotion are three natural ways to persuade a listener or an audience. It is important to cultivate a good understanding of these aspects to be able to persuade effectively:
When your arguments are based on logic and rationale, supported by relevant data, testimonials and evidence, it is considered a logical type of persuasion. Support your argument with facts, evidence, historical data and logical reasoning. When you use logic as a mode of persuasion, convey it in a way that makes sense to your listener. Try to enable them to see through your logical framework, instead of criticising their perspective or the logic that they may have applied.
If you are trusted by someone, you may be able to persuade them with ease. That is why improving your credibility is so important. Your qualifications, experiences and reputation can contribute to your credibility. In many instances, you may be required to convince the listener that you are motivated by a cause and not by personal gain. It may take years to build and maintain your credibility. Remember that any impulsive actions or irresponsible behaviour can harm your reputation quickly.
When you sway listeners and persuade them by appealing to their feelings, it is called persuasion by emotion. While persuading using emotion, it is important to refrain from unethical manipulation. During emotional persuasion, the persuader needs to take ownership and responsibility for the outcomes. Hence, it is good practice to pre-visualise these aspects and consider all outcomes before proceeding. Some avenues where emotional persuasion is used are political campaigns, fundraisers and religious congregations.
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