“Real persuasion comes from putting more of you into everything you say. Words have an effect. Words loaded with emotion have a powerful effect.”
Being good in persuasion is often misunderstood as being manipulative, duplicitous or a fraud. Persuasion is convincing someone to agree to a suggestion or to carry out an action with the intention of benefiting the person being influenced.
The ability to persuade and motivate others to act is probably the most valuable skill you can develop. Persuasion is a facet of everyday life.
Mastering the skills of persuasion will enhance your ability to get what you want in life.
It will also give you the power to change the attitudes, or behaviors of a person. You can persuade your children to do things they would not ordinarily do, such as eat fruits and vegetables.
As an employee, it may entail persuading your manager that you are deserving of a raise.
Here are 7 proven strategies that will make you persuasive (in a subtle way):
“One of the most widespread and basic norms of human culture is embodied in the rule for reciprocation. The rule requires that one person try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided.”
Think about this: when someone did you a favor, you felt obligated to return the favor. If you’ve recently moved into a new neighbourhood and a neighbour sends you handmade pastries, you’ll feel tempted to invite them over for tea.
When you reach out to someone, offer them something beneficial or out of a gesture of appreciation. Chances are you will more easily be able to convince them to do something for you.
Dr. Cialdini shared an example of reciprocity where restaurant waiters enjoyed a 3% increase in their tips when they gave dinners a free after-dinner mint.
When they offered 2 mints, their tips spiked by 14%. The tips increased by 23% if the waiter left one mint with the bill and returned immediately to offer a second mint.
Of course, people have a proclivity to abuse the Law of Reciprocation. It’s especially bad when it’s used as a pressure tactic or a front.
Use this law with sincerity at all times and your persuasions will most often be effective.
We value what is scarce. When something is limited or potentially inaccessible, our first thought is that it must be valuable. This is the law of scarcity, which defines that there are limited resources but human desires are unlimited.
We are psychologically hardwired to react against anything that is perceived as losing the freedom of choice. Remember when you were a teenager and your parents imposed a curfew?
You would probably want to violate it because it limits your freedom of choice.
To use scarcity to influence and persuade, you can create the perception that anything in short supply or limited is highly in demand.
Because humans are motivated by the fear of missing out (FOMO), your persuasion powers are enhanced when you elicit scarcity. One of the classic cases of FOMO is people queuing up for “limited-edition” sneakers.
Using time constraint is a common scarcity strategy to persuade someone to take action. Retailers often use limited-time offer ads to promote their products and to remind customers to:
“Act now, before time runs out.”
Scarcity is a powerful persuasion tool, but how skillfully it’s used determines how effective it is. You can use a low supply, a high demand, or a time limit to generate scarcity.
Communicate the sincerity of scarcity to improve your persuade, but never use ‘fake’ scarcity.
When people are unsure about their choices, they will most likely seek behavioral advice from others. This is the power of conformity where people will look to social proof .
The classic 1968 experiment by social psychologists Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman, and Lawrence Berkowitz on a busy New York City sidewalk aptly displayed the powers of conformity.
The researchers had a single subject stand for 60 seconds on a busy street corner in New York City, looking up at the sky. They then keep track of who else is viewing them.
They noted that 4% of passersby looked up.
The number of persons who looked up quadrupled when the experiment was performed with five males staring skyward. When 15 people stood and stared at the sky, the number of passersby increased by 45%.
This experiment demonstrated that what other people do has a significant impact on people. It’s referred to as “social proof” by psychologists. The “many” are used to influence the “few” in this basic yet effective strategy.
To conserve energy and reduce detergent-related pollutants, hotels have been encouraging visitors to re-use their towels. However, these demands were unanswered for years until they put up a sign that read:
“The majority at the hotel recycled their towels at least once during the course of their stay.”
As a result of this campaign, 44.1% of their customers re-use their towels at least once throughout their stay.
As Cialdini puts it:
“What the science is telling us is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt.”
So how do you use social proof to give you persuasive powers? Get others to do it for you. Customer testimonials, market statistics and social media likes are unbiased sources of social proof.
Another strong tool for persuasion is authority. This, too, is based on the reality that humans are wired to respect and obey authority.
We tend to trust doctors, teachers and religious leaders because they have the expertise and deemed trustworthy.
We have a tendency to obey persons in positions of authority, even if we don’t really agree with.
According to Caildini, the 3 symbols of authority are titles, clothing and trappings. And authority does not have to be legitimate, the mere appearance of it is powerful enough.
Obeying authority is so ingrained in our psyche that all it takes to exert influence is a title (Director, Founder, CEO) or a uniform. The other symbol of authority as described by Cialdini is appearance.
Sometimes, all it takes to display high status and authority is a fancy car and some expensive clothes.
Hence, your clothes reflect an image that tells others how to treat you.
In the absence of actual genuine authority, symbols of authority such as white lab coat, police badge, expensive cars and jewelry can enhance your authoritative role.
Even if you are not an authority or an expert you can still use this strategy to exert influence. You can leverage on the testimonials, quotes and images of authoritative figures to enhance the credibility of your business.
Just make sure that is done legally.
The more likeable you are, the more persuasive you will be. This persuasion strategy is based on the fact that we are more likely to be persuaded by people we like.
“If you could master one element of personal communications that is more powerful than anything we’ve discussed, it is the quality of being likable. I call it the magic bullet, because if your audience likes you, they’ll forgive just about everything else you do wrong. If they don’t like you, you can hit every rule right on target and it doesn’t matter.”
Cialdini listed 5 powerful elements of likeability that will enhance persuasion. You can use a combination of these elements to boost your powers of influence:
Good looks are frequently associated with positive characteristics such as trustworthiness, honesty, a sense of humor, and dependability.
If you can discover common ground with someone, you can connect with them. This can be in terms of opinions, background, personality or interests.
Being able to genuinely praise and compliment someone will draw them to you. Flattery will get you everywhere, as the saying goes. But do not go overboard.
Working closely with someone to accomplish a mutually important goal is an extremely effective way to expand your influence.
When you associate yourself (or your product) with something positive or attractive, your persuasion ability is enhanced. Advertisers often use this strategy when they link their products to professional athletes.
People tend to behave in a manner that is consistent with their values and image. If you can persuade someone to commit to anything, their sense of consistency will drive them to carry it out.
Their intention to honor it will lead to the fulfilment of that commitment. They don’t need additional persuasion from you. The principle of commitment assumes that once you commit to something or someone, you are more likely to follow through on your promise.
People are compelled to remain consistent with their commitment. Because consistency is a trait regarded highly by society.
Another reason why principle of commitment works is because, as humans, we tend to employ mental shortcuts to simplify out decision making processes.
We make so much decisions every day that we will try to limit the number of decisions made. We do this by referring to past decisions as a guide. Hence, this is in line with Cialdini’s take on consistency:
“…the desire to be consistent with what we’ve already done. If you see yourself doing something, it’s only in keeping with what you’ve already done, to do something that is likewise congruent with those actions. We like to be consistent.”
All you have to do to make your persuasion attempts effective is convince someone to make a little commitment. And they’ll do everything they can to make sure they’re being consistent by sticking to their word.
The idea of contrast states that you can make what you want someone to do more appealing by contrasting it with a less appealing option. This persuasion strategy works by altering the perception of the facts.
Despite this, the facts have not altered.
When you make decisions, you often compare and contrast the decision item with a reference object. If you lift two objects – a heavy one first, then a light one – you will most likely estimate the weight of the second one to be less than if you lifted it alone.
The power of contrast strategy utilizes the fact that we are hardwired to look for differences between things. It is based on the perception that the items or events happen one right after the other.
Timing is very important when using the power of contrast. If the two contrasting items are not presented together, it loses its impact. When a customer walks into your store looking to buy a suit and shoes, always sell the suit first. After paying $2000 for a suit, a $500 pair of shoes seems like a bargain.
And if the customer can fork out $2500, throwing in a $50 tie probably won’t matter much to him.
Once you have a firm grasp on this concept, your degree of persuasiveness will increase significantly. Because when you use this strategy in persuasion, people will mentally overcome their own objections.
Humans are “mental misers,” hence these approaches are founded on that reality. Mindfulness necessitates a significant amount of mental energy and effort.
However, we are constantly on the lookout for mental shortcuts. We don’t have the time, inclination, or ability to pay attention to what’s being said. As a result, rather of depending on facts, logic, and evidence to make a decision, we take a mental shortcut and rely on our instincts to guide us.
Our brains go into automatic mode when we respond to signals without thinking. When our thoughts receive the appropriate indication, we are pre-programmed to respond to persuasion triggers.
If you’ve ever tried to persuade someone to do anything for you, you are probably aware of the impact of the powers of persuasion on your life. Your persuasive skills can bring more opportunities into your life.
Work on mastering the art of persuasion and you will discover that things get done considerably faster. With persuasive skills, you can avoid doing everything by yourself and others will come to your assistance to help you reach your goals.