6 Ways to Be More Persuasive

By Chanel Dror

A few weeks ago, Kelly brought up the importance of asking for what you want. While she totally inspired us to step up and speak our minds, she also got us wondering: Are there any tricks to effectively winning over your audience to ensure that in addition to asking for what you want, you actually get it?

I dusted off my old college marketing materials and landed on Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Six Principles of Persuasion. The theory came up repeatedly throughout my college coursework, and though I’d forgotten the details of Cialdini’s claim, I’ve been subconsciously exercising his practice daily in the years since graduation. So whether you’re arguing your next case to your boss or to a complete stranger, turns out there are a few key things to keep in mind (and up your sleeve) that’ll help get you closer to your goal.

photo from chronicles of her

photo from fossil

1. Reciprocity

This theory is so embedded in our daily interactions, we hardly have to think about implementing it. “The Principle of Reciprocity” simply describes our tendency to feel indebtedness.

We’re deeply wired to repay one another — just think about the incentives offered in any Kickstarter you’ve ever funded — so when you’re trying to persuade someone to do something for you, offer them something in return.

Note that this exchange doesn’t have to play out in an overt or awkward way. Instead of outwardly saying “I’ll do this for you if you do this for me,” play more of a long game. Be a good friend and do favors often knowing that one day, you’ll feel more comfortable asking for something in return.

2. Commitment & Consistency

We’re faced with hundreds of choices every day, and according to “Commitment & Consistency,” we rely on past commitments to make our decisions a bit easier. Think about it: if you claim to be health conscious and green, then when you’re overwhelmed by options at the grocery store, the decision that’s consistent with your identity is to buy organic. So most of the time, you do.

So how does this apply to being persuasive? Next time you need to persuade someone, make them commit to  an identity or a statement. Then when you make your request, they’ll no-doubt feel compelled to stay aligned with that commitment.

For example, if your boss prides herself on employee appreciation and company culture around the office, she’ll be more likely to grant your request for a longer lunch break. Doing so is consistent with her stance on employee happiness. Identify these positions in others and use them to your advantage when making requests.

photo via travis hallmark

3. Social Proof

Even if you’re not a trend follower, the fact remains that we all tend to have more trust in things that are popular or endorsed by others. “Social Proof” is the reason we check TripAdvisor and Yelp before going anywhere, and why we’re likely to choose a busy restaurant over a desolate one.

Next time you need to convince someone to do or buy something, try to build some hype to let it be known that others are doing/buying that same thing. If those others happen to be influencers or celebrities, even better.

photo by valorie darling via laurenconrad.com

4. Liking

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise: we’re more likely to comply with requests made by people we like. From your dearest friend to a complete stranger who you’re attracted to, “liking” means that when we’re fond of someone, we listen.

Being a nice person is always en vogue, but if you want to get granular, practice these five tactics to really get others on your side:

  • Physical Attractiveness – Look your best, have pretty business cards, build a beautiful website, etc.
  • Similarity – Be relatable and understanding.
  • Compliments – Be complimentary and sincere.
  • Contact and Cooperation – Establish a common goal. Nothing builds closeness like teamwork.
  • Conditioning and Association – Associate yourself with the same values that you want to communicate.

photo from danielle moss

5. Authority

We naturally obey or follow those in charge… or, those who appear to be. The struggle for many of us is that we focus so much on being modest and humble, that we’re eventually overlooked as an authority on a subject.

From the way you dress, to the way you introduce yourself, to the way you speak, focus on establishing yourself as an expert or power player. You’ll be amazed at how much more receptive your target audience will be.

6. Scarcity

We are always drawn to things that are exclusive and hard to come by. This notion is the reason pop-up shops work and the cause for sneakers selling out in minutes.

When trying to sway an audience, remember that they naturally want what may not be available. We assume that things that are difficult to come by are better than things that are easily obtainable, so, create scarcity and let it work for you.

On a business level, think limited time offers and flash sales. On a personal level, think intimate exclusive experiences over huge gatherings.