7 Tips for Mastering the Art of Persuasion

When understood, persuasion is an effective business tool. Here is how to use persuasion effectively.

Persuasion is a skill that is generally misunderstood, misused, and underutilized. Persuasion is perceived to be a tool for sales and manipulation. Persuasion is perceived as a tool for selling cars — a profession that is not highly regarded (according to a Gallup poll, 92 percent of Americans believe car salespeople have low ethical standards). Yes, persuasion can be used to sell, to manipulate, and deceive. However, there is another side to persuasion — a side that walks hand-in-hand with negotiation. When approaching persuasion in this manner, persuasion has nothing to do with being the loudest or most aggressive. Rather, it is about defining a goal and getting people to buy into it; it is more about the finesse than the fight. When used appropriately, persuasion is an effective business tool.

Here are seven tips on being persuasive:

  1. Don't come out with guns blazing . If you start by looking for a fight, you will find one. Instead, work your way into your position so that you can adjust your expectations on the fly.
  2. Be flexible . Very simply, rigid things break, but flexible ones bend and then snap back. Show your flexibility and be willing to compromise. If you do this, the other side will be more willing to adjust their position and/or come along for the ride.
  3. Think of persuasion as a courtship and not a one-night stand . You will rarely drive consensus or alignment with a “one-and-done” approach. Show you are willing to invest the time to sort out the finer points and the other side will be less likely to fight and will be more likely to help you get to the answer you want.
  4. Be interested . If you want people to listen to you, listen to them. Really listen and be interested in what they are saying. By doing this you may discover you have more common ground than you thought, or you may find there is another way to get to yes.
  5. Persuade, do not manipulation. Manipulation is based in deceit and coercion. Persuasion is about compromise, communication, and evolving beliefs. The distinction is significant and needs to be remembered.
  6. Communicate clearly. Persuasion is about being able to clearly, effectively, and simply communicate — it is about boiling an issue down to its core. Make sure you know your position and that you can state it clearly and simply. If you can't state your position clearly and simply, you will not be able to be persuasive.
  7. Believe. Believe in your position and exude confidence. If you don't believe in your position you will not be able to effectively persuade people. Likewise, if you show a crack in your confidence veneer — the game is up.

By applying basic persuasion practices, whether working with colleagues or supply chain partners, you'll find that you'll get to new places — and everyone will get there with you.

10 comments on “7 Tips for Mastering the Art of Persuasion

  1. t.alex
    November 16, 2013

    These are indeed useful tips. I believe 'empathy' is one of the key note as well. Only when we are really in the other person shoe can we have the right way of approaching them.

  2. itguyphil
    November 16, 2013

    You're right. Understanding is the first step to being able to sell someone.

  3. t.alex
    November 16, 2013

    I think being forceful is one the first thing to break whatever persuasion process that you are carrying out. I have seen salesmen who tried to play down the concerns that I voiced out and that makes them fail to understand their customers' thinking.

  4. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 16, 2013

    @t.alex. Emphathy does create a sense of connection with others. In addition, it creates a sense that the person you are working with is really important to what's going on. It's a good point.

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 16, 2013

    @t.alex, i'm with  you. The hard sales techniques really put me off… often these ways of selling make me feel (to your point) that the person is just cramming something down my throat rather than getting ot know anything about my needs or value system. The best sales people ask a bunch of question up front and then say something that addresses what they've learned. These guys were pushy.


    To that point: when i shopped for a car when I was in my 20s, every sales guy (and they were all guys) tried to tell me about how well child car seats would fit in the car–and i had no desire at that point to have children. Fast forward 20 years (and two kids later). and i just saw a new car, an electric one–this sales guy asked me about how i drrive, commute, etc. I work from home and he told me about how this car is ideal to work at home people who have mostly errands and outings–i would use virtually no gas. Although i'm not currently looking to buy a car, that car is on my radar now as something that might fit my needs when i do start to look. He was persuasive.

  6. Adeniji Kayode
    November 17, 2013


    I guess he was smart too because i,m so sure he would not use that same approach for a yonger person.

    I also feel he took his time to know his customers personally.

  7. itguyphil
    November 18, 2013

    Well that's the mistake. You can't “play down” concerns or fears, you have to find solutions for them. If you have the habit of telling people “It's not a problem…”, you'll be a poor salesman in many worlds.

  8. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    November 26, 2013

    sales is a fine art… i have to appreciate those who are good at it. It has to do with authenticity, I beleive.

  9. SunitaT
    February 22, 2014

    The art of listening as said in the blog is really important to learn to be a good persuader, because unless we listen, our brain might skip out some important points the other party has to offer, they can be such points which if considered well enough might be fruitful for ourselves. 

  10. SunitaT
    February 22, 2014

    @Hailey Lynne McKeefry: You said it right, there are lot many manipulators out there in the market, who cause more irritation and only a few persuaders bring customer satisfaction. Most of them forget that a new customer would be interested to buy their product either to address their recent problem or upgrade their old system. Failing to understand this, unfortunately makes them highlight unnecessary manual statements and intimidate potential buyers.

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