5 Quick Tips I Gave Today on Persuasion

I had a small meetup today in NYC about persuasion. (Check out my Persuasion and Charisma Meetup here.)

My goal was to provide some simple tips and techniques for persuasion and influence. These are just a small sample of many persuasion concepts.

Here are the main ones I highlighted (with links to more info on this blog):

1. Agree and reframe:

Always a controversial one (“Whaaaat?! I thought I was trying to get someone to agree with me?!”), but devastatingly effective.

Agreeing with someone on the surface just to get the ego and pride and “need to be right” out of the way opens up a lot of potential for dialogue.

By feeling validated and respected, the other party becomes much more open to your message. They don’t have to defend themselves against a perceived attack.

2. Give them something for free:

Also known simply as “gifting.” This plays on a deep psychological tendency to feel indebted to someone, and a desire to reciprocate when something is done for us.

This is most effective when it happens outside of the transactional process of negotiating a contract. A gift is not a concession or a negotiation strategy. That’s important, but gifting is more about generating positive energy and good will that will pay off over time.

3. Praise the quality you want to see more of:

Tell a young child that they are hard-working and conscientious, and they will naturally live up to that standard. Tell them that they are a trouble-maker, and sure enough, they will behave accordingly.

Adults are not much different. As you praise someone for a quality that you want them to exhibit (decisiveness, generosity, honesty, transparency, whatever), they will tend to demonstrate more of that. We have a psychological need for consistency.

To hear external reinforcement and encouragement of one quality, but then to exhibit the opposite, creates cognitive dissonance and psychological discomfort. Much easier to just act according to others’ expectations of us.

4. Get buy-in from others:

This speaks to the psychological concept of social proof. It’s often over-simplified as “we want what others want.”

But it goes beyond that. When others already support or believe in an idea, it seems to carry more weight. When many others have already purchased from you, you seem more reliable and trustworthy. Especially if they are willing to write you a testimonial. We are affected by the wisdom of the crowd.

For big decisions that you’re trying to get, you want to lay the groundwork weeks or even months in advance by getting lots of other people on the team to buy in to your idea. By the time you bring it up to the big decision-maker, it will seem like common sentiment, not just “one random person’s idea.”

5. Present data and numbers:

The human brain is naturally disposed to give more weight to numbers than words.

Incorporating data, statistics, scientific evidence and findings from high-authority sources (government agencies, reputable universities, large corporations, etc) increases the authority of your message.

Don’t let your message be seen as “just one man’s/ woman’s opinion.” Integrate numbers, data and evidence to weave together a compelling and persuasive narrative.

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