Persuasion Skills: What Are They? (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 16, 2020
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The power of persuasion is an ability that comes in handy in many roles and shows potential leadership characteristics. To persuade someone means that they understand your outlook, come to agree with it, and are influenced to follow an intended path.

Having influencing tactics and persuasion skills can make you a more effective employee, no matter what industry you work in.

What Are Persuasion Skills?

Persuasion skills are the strategies you use during a debate or discussion to either change an opposing party’s opinion or inspire them to follow through with an action. Your persuasive abilities can be evident through both the written and spoken word.

It’s something that can be useful in more careers than you may think. Persuasion actively gets consumers or co-workers invested in the interaction, whether it’s conflict management or making a sale.

Being proficient in persuasion involves a series of qualities based on communication and interpersonal skills that can make pitching your viewpoint more successful.

Persuasion skills can also help a jobseeker by increasing their chances of resonating with a possible employer. Convincing a hiring manager that you’re the best person for a position is a form of persuasion skill that many of us have used before.

Learning more about these abilities can help you be a better employee or even land your next high-paying position.

10 Examples of Persuasion Skills

  1. Problem-solving. Being a problem-solver makes you a competitive employee in a lot of regards, but it can also improve your ability to persuade. Employers want to hire people who will step up to the plate when they’re faced with a problem and come up with productive solutions.

    If you can be this person in one circumstance, they’ll likely hear you out when you bring up something you’d like to sway their opinion on.

  2. Confidence. One of the ways that get people to listen to someone else’s viewpoint actively is having a presence of confidence. Nobody is influenced by a person who comes off as weak in the presentation of their suggestions.

    To get someone to follow what you think is the best route to take, you must have authority in your beliefs and statements. A co-worker or client is just less likely to trust your judgment if you seem insecure while trying to persuade them.

  3. Building rapport. The ability to build rapport is an integral part of influencing people. You want them to see you as trustworthy and dependable. Rapport means establishing a connection, sometimes even so far as to say a friendship,

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    Having a connection with the person you’re attempting to persuade is crucial because it creates a bond of trust. That means they’re more likely to believe and follow through with your plan for the best move.

  4. Address the person by their name. Acknowledging someone as an individual whom you respect is the first step towards getting them to hear you out. One easy way to do this is by addressing the person by their name. It gives a personalized feel to the correspondence and makes it feel less stuffy for everyone involved.

  5. Specificity. Vagueness demonstrates a lack of knowledge when it comes to persuading somebody on an issue. You want to emphasize specific relevant points to strengthen your argument. Persuasive language utilizes strategy and details to inform the consumer or co-worker as much as possible.

  6. Implementing a sense of urgency. A powerful tool in persuasion is creating a sense of urgency for the person you’re discussing with.

    If you’re using persuasion to solve an issue, try to explain the consequences that leaving the nagging problem to fester may have for the company.

    Alternatively, if your plan or suggestion has time-constraints that could limit its effectiveness, be sure to communicate this.

    The urgency in whatever form fits the situation impacts the person that you’re trying to persuade, even unconsciously, by making them feel the need to make a decision quickly.

  7. Do your research. Before making a case to persuade someone, be sure you’ve done the proper research to back up the claim you’re making. There’s nothing that kills an argument faster than being uneasy on your feet when it comes to facts and not knowing answers to basic relevant questions.

    Go into a persuasive presentation with all the information you may need to answer any questions the client may have. You want to sound like the most knowledgeable person on the subject of whatever it is you’re speaking on.

  8. Storytelling. One classic tactic of professionals skilled in persuasion is using storytelling as a vehicle for their pitch. A big hurdle of persuading a person into agreeing with you or following through with an action is keeping their attention. People are fickle with their attention.

    Proposing your persuasion in the form of a story can help overcome the challenge of holding an audience’s attention. Stories are interesting. They’re the basis for a lot of entertainment we do in our free time.

    Using storytelling to display your request can coherence someone into seeing your perspective because it grabs their curiosity and holds their attention.

  9. Utilize active listening skills. Persuading is more than just talking your opinion to someone. You also need to utilize your active listening skills to hear out their side as well. A crucial part of the persuasion process is picking up on the other party’s needs and emotions and responding empathetically.

    Even if you’re persuading someone into doing something that’s for your direct benefit, such as buying a product, hearing out the customer’s preferences makes for a more positive interaction overall. It isn’t being manipulative; it’s about getting them the best possible result.

    It can even lead to making a bigger sale by hearing what they want and suggesting accordingly to accommodate.

  10. Communication skills. Persuasion is all about having an equal and productive exchange of communication. For both parties to leave the interaction satisfied with the outcome, you need to bring strong communication skills to any event with the intent to influence. This involves both understandably speaking your mind and listening to the other person when they express their thoughts.

    Examples of communication skills include:

    • Empathy

    • Mutual respect

    • Honesty

    • Friendliness

    • Open-mindedness

    • Collaboration

    • Receiving and providing feedback

7 Tips for Using Persuasion Skills

  1. Don’t fear rejection. The worst possible thing that can happen from bringing a suggestion to a co-worker is that they reject the offer. That’s not that bad. In this case, you just dust yourself off and move onto the next idea.

    Fearing rejection makes it more likely that it will be the result of the discussion because it instills you with self-doubt. Try to maintain a confident demeanor and remember, it’s not the end of the world either way.

  2. Avoid assuming anything about the audience. We all know the age-old saying about assuming things. That’s also true for attaching assumptions to the audience of your persuasive presentation.

    Even if you know the person you’re pitching an idea to fairly well, it’s best to go into the interaction without any preconceived notions about them. Every professional debate is a blank slate. Treat it as such.

  3. Don’t sound desperate. The tone of desperation in a sales pitch or interaction with the goal of influence is sure to send the client running in the other direction. Desperate plots at persuasion will almost always have a negative effect.

    To combat coming off as overeager, remember that it’ll turn out all right regardless of the outcome. You don’t need to convince anyone of anything so badly that it’ll end in detriment if you don’t.

    Keep it nonchalant and maintain a tone that your plan, offer, or suggestion can benefit the other party.

  4. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. One of the best ways to get someone on your side is empathizing with their values and beliefs. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how your proposal would come off to them.

    They’re probably seeking a benefit in the interaction, so if you can provide this, it’s a reliable way to influence their decision.

  5. Don’t forget about writing skills. Being persuasive is about more than being able to command a room face-to-face. You’ll also often be required to articulate this skill through writing.

    Persuading someone through an email or advertisement is a little different than speaking to them one-on-one. It requires more attention to detail and thinking ahead of the curve to avoid miscommunication.

    If you’re considering improving your persuasion abilities, make sure you also give attention to your writing skills.

  6. Establish common ground. Perhaps the most important thing you can do with a party you’re hoping to persuade is to establish common ground with them. This means they can relate to you and ultimately understand where you’re coming from.

    This helps build a solid rapport and makes it more likely that they’ll trust what you have to say.

  7. Fall back on the facts. When you’re making an argument that you’re hoping will persuade someone to move in a particular direction, you need to have facts to support your claims.

    In a job interview, this may be communicating your previous experience and demonstration of skills.

    In a sales capacity, it may be leaning towards science and statistics to provide evidence that makes your pitch more credible.

    Consider the scenario that you will need to use your persuasion skills in, and determine what facts may be helpful beforehand.

How to Improve Persuasion Skills

Consider the following ways of strengthening your abilities to persuade in the workplace:

  1. Take a course in persuasive writing. Writing persuasively is a talent that takes a little more consideration than when you’re speaking casually with a co-worker. Especially if you work in a field heavily dependent on written communication with a distant audience, like copywriting.

    There’s always the possibility that your tone is misconstrued over email, or the lack of immediate communication deters a potential client.

    You can strengthen your persuasive writing skills and increase the likelihood of a positive response by taking a persuasive writing course online.

    Examples of online persuasive writing courses include:

  2. Work on your critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is vital for assessing how you want a discussion to play out and how you can achieve this goal. It basically entails analyzing a situation and devising the best way to act based on these judgments.

    It’s crucial for formulating a worthwhile argument and expressing it in a way that sways people. Having critical thinking skills will also help you be quick on your feet in the heat of a discussion.

    Examples of online critical thinking courses include:

  3. Improve on your patience and persistence. While you want to avoid coming off as an annoyance to a potential customer or employer, persistence is key in making a sale or landing a job. Professionally following-up can make a world of difference in either circumstance.

    Additionally, you should work on your patience to make the other party more comfortable and ease them into seeing a situation your way.

    Patience in your communications shows that you care about their experience, in addition to your goals, and want the outcome to work out well for both of you.

    Examples of online resources to help develop patience and persistence include:

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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