How to be Persuasive

One of the topics our team of speech coaches cover most often is persuasion. Many people believe persuasion is about saying “I am right and you are wrong.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. Persuasion is about presenting your thoughts and ideas in a compelling way that makes others listen to them. So, if I have persuaded you to read on <ahem>, here are three important considerations to be persuasive:

1. All communication is persuasive.

Start by recognizing ALL communication is persuasive! When you are convincing an individual, a small team, or a group of hundreds of some business need or task that has to be undertaken, that is persuasion. But so is explaining an idea. You are convincing others that your idea is worth listening to. In fact, any time you speak, you are convincing someone of something.

2. There are three ways to successfully persuade.

Surprisingly, there really only are three ways. If you think there are more and want to disagree with Aristotle, Plato, and several thousand years of human experience and learning, please tell me so we can write a book and become independently wealthy! However, for now let’s agree there are only three ways:

  • Ethos When you persuade someone through ethos you are appealing through the influence of your credibility. Credibility can be education, background, experience, company, the team you are on, or anything that gives you special standing. Be aware that your credibility is situational. You might have high credibility in your job because of your title, but if you go home and say “I’m the VP of Sales now listen to me!”, you probably won’t have added credibility with your family unless your home is very different from mine.
  • Pathos People can be persuaded by pathos, or the emotional part of your communication. In fact, emotion is one of the most significant persuasive appeals. Emotion is not just fear, sadness, or excitement. In business it can also be money, time, and efficiency. Emotion is what drives people to make decisions that are not necessarily based in logic. If you are not considering using emotional appeals in persuading others, you are definitely not using your most potent communication tool.
  • Logos Logos is logic, and in business, it is the most common way of appealing to others. Logic is simple and easily explained. If a business commits A resources to B, then C result will occur. Done. The obvious reason why logic is a big motivator in business is because business is results-driven by people who are trained to make logical decisions.

3. Utilize ALL forms of persuasion when you communicate.

If you look at the above three ways to persuade, you are probably recognizing that you personally can be persuaded by all three, albeit in different circumstances. Congratulations…you are normal! We are all persuaded by those three but maybe to a different degree depending on the topic, time, or speaker. Since we don’t know which will be most persuasive to which people and when, the key is to use them all. When you are communicating with others, attempt to use all three forms of persuasion and you will greatly increase the likelihood of convincing others.

There is so much more to persuasion as this skill is the cornerstone of most communication in business. It might be seen as a soft skill but it is not. Persuasion (and communication as a whole), is a necessary skill in business and in life.  Once you begin to think about all communication as persuasive, you’ll see your effectiveness increase dramatically!

Editor’s note: For more information on being persuasive, check out our podcast The Only Three Ways to Convince Anybody of Anything. Listen…

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