The art of persuasion is a powerful tool for entrepreneurs.
It can help you land new clients, hire the best employees and form new business relationships. Persuasive people are likeable and influential because they put the needs of others above themselves. When you genuinely try to understand another person’s background and motivation, you’ll be able to more effectively persuade him or her.
Use these nine practices to become a more influential and persuasive business leader:
1. Be curious.
The best persuaders are innately curious about the world around them and the people with whom they interact. Learn what others need on a physical as well as emotional level and why. Always ask good questions and then listen.
Begin open-ended discussions that start with “Tell me….” Demonstrate a genuine interest in others and get to know their desires, dreams and goals. Once you understand a person’s position, you’ll be better equipped to persuade him.
2. Listen effectively.
When talking with someone, always give that person your full attention. Look her in the eye and use her name throughout the conversation. Let her finish before you respond. When you’re attentive, you send a message that you value that person and her opinion. Over time, a growing reputation of trustworthiness will enable a leader to influence decisions.
3. Be honest.
Your credibility and power of persuasion are heavily dependent on your ability to be honest in all situations. Dishonesty can mislead others and it’s usually destructive. One intentional lie or misrepresentation is often enough to permanently damage a professional reputation. Though the truth may occasionally hurt, most people respect and appreciate honest feedback.
4. Be confident.
Whether you’re speaking to a client, customer or colleague, show how much you believe in your business and ideas. Remain calm to avoid an appearance of anxiety or self-doubt. Always be straightforward and clear when you speak. If necessary, feign self-assurance. Clearly state your position and validate it with factual information.
5. Tell a story.
There’s nothing quite as compelling or fascinating as a story well told. Even children love a good story. Stories have the power to persuade others and influence them. People may pay attention differently when hearing a narrative as opposed to just facts and figures.
If you want to demonstrate why an idea or strategy is important, then tell a well-crafted story. Your stories must create connections between what the person is thinking, what he already believes and what you want him to believe and do. Next layer is your proof. Give an example using yourself or someone you know that adds credibility to your point.
6. Address concerns.
All too often when a businessperson sets out to persuade, he or she wants to change another person’s beliefs entirely. But the persuader’s ultimate goal should be to have the other person accept (or at least understand) his or her belief and deal with any concerns.
In a conversation, hone in on what matters most to the other person. Share opposing viewpoints and address potential areas of frustration or confusion. If someone’s hesitant to agree with you, ask questions to find out why. Don’t just tell that person why you think you’re right. Back up your ideas or statements with credible evidence.
7. Make your voice more effective.
The moment someone hears you, they begin to make decisions as a result of the way you communicate. Don’t stumble over your words. Slow down your rate of speech. Adjust your volume so that you speak loudly and clearly. Vary the speed and pitch of your voice.
Use brief pauses to emphasize points of significance. Avoid filler interjectives such as like, uh and you know. Plan what you intend to say before you do so and then deliver it with conviction and confidence.
8. Show empathy.
To be a powerful persuader, understand a person’s pain and problems.Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Doing this will help you better understand the other person’s situation, feelings and motives. If you’ve had a similar experience, share it. Showing empathy fosters connections and builds trust.
9. Find familiar ground.
It’s much easier to persuade someone with whom you have already bonded and have a relationship with than a person you have just met. Get to know the individual you hope to persuade. The more information you know about the person, the better. Do your homework.
Learn what this person likes and dislikes. Familiarize yourself with his or her product, industry and anything else that might give you a bit of an edge. Review this information before you meet. Whenever you find a commonality with someone and share it, you become more memorable and stand out above all others.
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