The most persuasive techniques have their roots in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). These persuasion techniques are based on empathy – in order to persuade someone – you must understand them.
Empathy-Based Persuasive Techniques
The first and most important thing you must understand about the person you are trying to influence is what their mind best responds to – feel, visual, or auditory stimulation. Knowing this will allow you to be more persuasive by plugging into and feeding this specific desire.
Females usually respond best to feelings, but not always. Men often respond well to visuals, and some people are affected by audio. To learn which is the best stimulation to focus your persuasion, look at how they talk. Do they say “I see”, “I hear what you’re saying”, or “I feel that…”? These are obvious examples of course, the correct answer could be more subtle and perhaps a mixture of two types of stimulation.
Adjust your persuasion techniques based on the kind of mind you are dealing with; for example, when persuading someone who is “feel” orientated, focus on how they will feel if they do what you are trying to convince them to. Don’t try and tell them what it will be like – you have to make them actually feel it.
The more you’re aware of the person you’re dealing with, the more effectively you will be able to focus your persuasive techniques.
Mirror-Based Persuasive Techniques
As well as focusing the content of your persuasion in a way that interacts well with their specific personality type, you can also adjust your language and the way you speak to put yourself on their level. People respond better to persuasive techniques that are in their own “language”. Pick up on specific words that they use and use them back on them, especially adjectives. Pay attention to their speed, pitch and volume, and respond as similarly as possible.
Matching your body language and even your pose/position is a subtle but surprisingly powerful persuasive technique. You need to be subtle and it may feel awkward at first, but with some practice you will see how effective this technique, known as “mirroring”, can be at developing a rapport and easing persuasion.
Other Persuasive Techniques
There are many other persuasive techniques that you can work on and build up. We recommend that you master the empathy/mirror persuasive techniques most importantly as these are the most effective. However, the following techniques can be valuable additions to your persuasion armory.
There are many subconscious persuasive words that one can use. Often these will be a call to action: for example “Do that” or “Be this”. Positive words and adjectives such as “Definitely”, “Most” and “Effective” are very persuasive all on their own.
Use “now” words such as “today” or “at the moment” often to subliminally suggest urgency.
Getting the person to think for themselves is highly motivating and can therefore be extremely persuasive. Ask questions that engage them and they automatically become more receptive. This will also help you learn more about them. Often this will even convince them that they are making the decision when in fact you have simply steered them to this persuasion.
It is highly important to develop a good rapport with the person you are trying to persuade. Without eye contact this is virtually impossible. With consistent and non-threatening eye contact, you can develop trust. Add a genuine smile and persuasion will be much easier.
Be Persuasive by Connecting Emotionally, not Rationally
Anyone in politics will tell you – people simply don’t respond rationally. They respond based on emotions. To persuade someone, you must connect with them emotionally.
Aristotle identified the three basic elements of every persuasive argument:
Ethos: the credibility, knowledge, expertise, stature and authority of the person trying to persuade.
Logos: the appeal of logic, reason, cognitive thinking, data and facts.
Pathos: the appeal to the emotions; the non-cognitive, non-thinking motivations that affect decisions and actions.
All layers are of course important, but it is perhaps the emotional layer that holds the most power of persuasion. We are emotional beings and are much more likely to be persuaded by the promise of feeling good than the promise of “something being correct”.
Are Persuasion Techniques Moral?
Of course you may be thinking that using persuasion techniques is immoral, underhand. Indeed, you may find yourself with the dilemma of whether to use them on someone you love. It’s really up to you how you feel about using persuasive techniques, but remember the following.
People should be aware of the techniques, and know when others are trying to manipulate them. If you successfully persuade someone, you have simply out-competed them.
Persuasion is always optional. Yet, after much practice, you may find that these persuasive techniques simply embed into the nature of your being. Would you feel guilty for using any other aspects of your personality such as speaking confidently?
Much of the time, you will be trying to do what is best for them anyway. The purpose of connecting with someone emotionally is to learn what they want. When you know this, you are only persuading them to do something that they will want to do anyway. So, by its definition, persuasion is not manipulation – it is just bringing your point across.
People should be aware enough to make their own decisions. Ideally, you should be confident that you can use these persuasive techniques to do what is right for all concerned.
If you’re still not comfortable with using persuasive techniques, we strongly recommend this article: 5 Steps to Easily Influencing People Without Manipulation which gives a refreshingly caring perspective on persuasion.