The art of persuasion

When you start a business, your success depends on your ability to get others to take action. Every day you are negotiating to turn prospects into paying clients and to motivate people to do things for you. Influence and persuasion is not just for leaders. It is an essential skill required to strengthen your path to success.

The intention behind your desire is where the persuasion and manipulation differ

Persuasion is the act of getting people to do or believe something. The process aim is to change attitudes or behaviours towards something by conveying information, feelings, reasoning or all three. Persuasion is about helping a person or group to understand your message and consequently become motivated to do or think something.

On the other hand you have manipulation and coercion. Manipulation is exerting shrewd or devious influence especially for your own advantage. If you are manipulative, you generally don’t care about what the consequences are for the other person. Manipulation implies persuasion with the intention to fool, control or contrives a person or group into doing something, believing something or buying something that leaves them either harmed or without benefit. Rather than asking for what you want, you use deception, coercion and even threats to get your needs met.

Deception – making someone believe that something is true.

Coercion – making someone do something by using force or threat.

The very nature of manipulation makes it challenging to know that it is happening. If you are manipulative, you attempt to conceal your motives, feelings and intentions. You will do whatever it takes to get what you want.

Dr Robert Cialdini’s (Psychologist, author, speaker, professor) theory of influence is based on six principles of persuasion:


People feel obligated to return favours performed for them. Getting something for nothing makes buyers feel obligated to purchase. The more you serve the other person, the more you will earn the right to influence them. People are looking for value. What can you do to make their life easier/better? Doing this will help to show that you are not just focusing on what you can get from them.


People like experts to show them the way. There are three factors that trigger the authority principle; tiles (positions of power/experience such as Dr., President, CEO,), presentation (superficial cues that signal authority such as uniforms, suits a professional looking website) and trappings (accessories/proof that go along with certain positions/roles such as a nice cars, police badge, expensive suits. This also includes such things as a large social media follower count)


The less available the resource, the more people want it. Advisements that say “time is running out” or “almost sold out” are using scarcity to make people believe that a product has a limited supply and they must buy right away.


The more that people like others, the more they want to say yes to them. Research shows that people attribute talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence to people they find attractive


People want to act consistently with their commitments and values. People are more likely to follow through with something if they have committed to it, verbally or in writing.

Social proof

People look to what others do for validation and in order to guide their own behaviour. Including testimonials in marketing material and websites is an example of using social proof to influence others.

Here are few tips to help boost your chances to successfully influence people:

Read the situation

You need to adjust your communication style to the audience or situation. This includes identifying the level of formality to determine the appropriate dress and language. Know the purpose of your interaction. Read the other person’s non-verbal cues to help fine-tune your message.


Take time to listen carefully to the other person and find out about their interests and expectations. Strive to understand before being understood. Show you are really interested in them. Give the other person a chance to express their wants and needs. After all you are not pursuing only your interests. Your aim is something that will be mutually beneficial.

Stand in their shoes

You cannot persuade someone unless you understand them. Try to look at the issue from their perspective. Talk about how your request will benefit them and their goals. Consider how they might react, what objections they might raise and what concerns they might have.

Build rapport

People like people who are like them. Notice and mirror the other person’s body language, language patterns etc. People you mirror subconsciously feel more empathy with you and you can build a sense of rapport allowing them to be more open to your suggestions.

Persuasion is a communication skill that can be learnt. There is no single strategy or a guarantee that you will succeed every time. However, with practice, your skill will develop and improve.

If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you can communicate skillfully, you can work miracles. Jim Rohn

Caroline Siassios

About Caroline Siassios

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