Be More Persuasive to Get What You Want

BY Tim Londergan
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Can you persuade a cat? How do you persuade a toddler? What best persuades your prospect? You use a range of tactics depending on your destination. Right? In other words, it all comes down to YOUR READ of the situation and where you want to take them. And you do it with a sense that you will be successful. I’m sure we can all write volumes on what does NOT work. For instance, we’ve all had failures at the finish line where we knew the contract was locked-​up only to be blindsided by disappointment. Consequently, we beat ourselves up and look for what we missed. We blame ourselves for the collapse of the deal. But let me direct you to this article by a social psychologist who can help you be more persuasive and give you confidence in approaching your next negotiation.

We must overcome our psychological biases to be more persuasive

The author, Cornell University’s Vanessa Bohns, says studies have found “people prefer to be cooperative and helpful, not withholding. In fact, saying ‘no’ is hard, which means that when we brace for pushback or rejection, we are often being unnecessarily pessimistic.” She contends that we all tend to underestimate our influence. Importantly, we have more power than we believe we have. Through her research, she identifies three things that persuasive people do differently that can help anyone be more persuasive.

Don’t worry about saying things perfectly

"Perfect is the enemy of good" stands as an appropriate aphorism for making your argument. For the most part, people don’t remember exactly what was said. Therefore, it's irrational to fear having your words thrown back at you. You are unlikely to be defeated by what you said if you state your case plainly. The important thing is to make the substance of your message crystal clear. In other words, your prospect must only retain the gist of what you said, not how articulately you stated your point.

Do it in person

In today’s virtual business environment, this is a challenge. Phone calls allow for voice inflection and an opportunity to discern tone and pauses in the conversation. Likewise, there is comfort in email, but this medium allows your proposal to easily be rebuffed, put aside, or ignored. Bohns stresses that showing up in person is one of the most effective, and underutilized, influence tactics that we possess to be more persuasive.

Turn up your confidence level

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Bohns maintains that, “when trying to get people to listen to what we have to say, recent research suggests that we tend to be under confident.” First, underconfidence can lead us to work hard on the wrong things. Second, it forces us to overthink the situation. And finally, it is inefficient and self-​defeating. Early in my career, a mentor told me that I possess more influence than I believed. I’m sure he was speaking in general terms, but I do understand what he was communicating. We can all be more persuasive if we adjust our thinking toward the positive. For instance, when you know your customer’s needs and that your product provides the solution, be confident in the results. Bohns concludes her argument by noting, “whatever impression you assume you made on another person, assume it’s much better, and whatever pushback you’re expecting to get, expect it to be much less.”

You can increase your confidence and your persuasiveness when you prepare properly for each prospect meeting. To learn how, read our free e‑book, the 7 C's of Pre-​Call Intelligence.

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels