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Creating Successful Leaders

...Calvin could use a little help...

…Calvin could use a little help…

Let’s face it: the world can be a competitive place. If you’re passionate about something and wish to pursue it, others are definitely doing the same. If you think you’re very good at something, there’s someone out there who’s better. Everyday, we must navigate through a world in which everyone is fighting for numero uno.

This is why persuasive skills are a must-have. To be successful in your endeavors, whatever they may be, you’ll need to convince others that you are worth their time.

The following are a few techniques to help you be more persuasive.

1. Frame Your Words Carefully

Consider these two sentences, and tell me which one is more effective.

“I’d like to be considered for the management position because I’m interested in furthering my career.”

“I’d like to be considered for the management position because I’m interested in new opportunities and challenges.”

The second one, right? These sentences both convey someone wishing to be considered for a promotion. Yet the second sentence focuses on personal growth and a desire to learn, while the first seems to say that the person, at the end of the day, is really only in it for themselves.

Politicians use framing all the time. Consider the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” If you swap the “pro” with “anti” to make them “anti-life” and “anti-choice,” you see what each side is trying to emphasize.

These are subtle, yet intentional ways to make your proposal more enticing.

2. Mirror Body Language

When trying to persuade someone, mirroring their body language makes you seem empathetic. In fact, if you’re an empathetic person to begin with, you are probably doing this without realizing it, which is good! People instinctively try to form alliances whenever possible, and by copying their mannerisms (subtly, of course!), you’re signaling to them that you understand them and are on their side.

3. Fluid Speech

Too many “umm’s,” “err’s” or other fillers gives off the impression that you aren’t confident, and confidence is crucial for successful persuasion. Work on making your speech smooth, fluid, and controlled. Don’t rush through your proposal or argument. Instead, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath, and speak as you would to a good friend.

If you feel the need to utter an “err,” here’s a tip: Often, when in a position of pressure, such as an interview or a presentation, we are inclined to speak much more quickly than we usually would. If you feel an “um” coming on, it’s a cue that you need to slow down and take a breath. Change out the filler word with silence. This may sound crazy, but actually, a few seconds of silence between sentences gives off an impression of confidence and control of the situation. Watch politicians speak, focusing on how they take tough questions, and you’ll see what I mean.

4. Break The Touch Barrier; Use First Names

You’ll need to use common sense for this one, since some situations aren’t going to allow for you to do this. However, because we humans subconsciously desire to bond, physical touch can make it more likely that the person you’re persuading will accept you as an ally and feel inclined to agree to your proposal. This can be a light pat on the shoulder, a joking “punch” on the arm (not a real punch, obviously), or a reassuring and gentle arm squeeze. Again, you’ll need to use your intuition on this. I wouldn’t, for instance, do the joking punch thing at a job interview.

In the same vein, work on using someone’s first name mid-sentence  This does two things. First of all, it instinctively demands the person’s attention. Should, for any reason, the person begin to show signs of losing attention, inserting their name into your speech will snap them back into the present. Secondly, it triggers the same subconscious bond that physical touch does; it gives them the sense that you’re on the same team.

5. If you believe in your proposal, others will too

This is the most important trick. Too often I see people clearly uninterested in the thing they’re trying to sell/promote/propose. This is perhaps the single biggest turnoff when it comes to persuasion. How in the world do you expect others to get behind you when you’re not behind it yourself? Enthusiasm and passion are contagious; use this as a persuasive tool.

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